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by Jessica Harman

Secrets of the Mad


I sleep a lot, restlessly, never dipping
into the water, never going the way birds
go when they dive off the map

that the air weaves out of the world. We walk
hand in hand sometimes down memories
of the Old Port, where the lamps were quaint

replicas of the older style, so that they let off
a warm orange glow, not citrus, but brandy
in the throat of the sky. And the sky

was always weightless. The dream wanted
to sleep me into oblivion, but I fought,
and I am always fighting. My body is wrong

and I must teach it to be perfect.


You do not
know how heavy the apples are on my branches
waiting to burst open the earth. The ground

is my enemy made of the same clay
that I am. I scour the glove for spirit, knowing
I will become pure one day. I cannot

clean myself of you. The heat seeps in.


I become magnetic to the moon, and the gap closes in.
I have no choice but to welcome it, though I distrust
that eerie magic. The man tells me I am black magic,

then he goes into his upholstered office
to figure out his taxes, which are a mystery
to girls like me. I am part wild, part gypsy.

I am everything frightening, like blood,
which terrifies us down to the roots of our nerves.


Blood is my sister primal force. It is impossible to tease
my madness out of my sense of it.

Both are black cats in other incarnations when they shift,
the way air does when it becomes a sigh or a wish,
and I let myself go walking with both of them

in the tender, crackling darkness.


Copyright 2008 by Jessica Harman

Copyright  2005-2009  ČERVENÁ BARVA PRESS, LLC - All Rights Reserved