Sarah Suzor and Travis Cebula

from After The Fox

Morning, you’re in it.
From where I sit, it’s only
safe to watch. It’s too dark
and full of angles for me
to participate. But I’ll tell you
a secret.

You talk about returning?
If you ask, Morning, you’ll get
directions. You’ll get five liquors and a train.
You’ll get the A, the C, the E.
You’ll get the R, the 6, the Z.
And if you hurry you’ll get the uptown.
If not, you’ll get the F.

The F is fine. If you like that.
It’s no secret, but it’s no cognac, either.
It’s where I live when I’m here.

The candles are open
flames and they, too, are fine.
They are for touching
to paper and they are
for all the other deadly heat
that so many hands pass through
without noticing. In other words,
once the building caught fire
it kept burning.
In other words, beautiful. And stranger than.

After the fox, I assumed
you’d be back. Forever
is a circle with four ways
to its edge. Dawn and sunset.
Noon and midnight in
days after days. We could be anywhere,

but I guess there’s only one
Morning, and one Nocturnal.
Those are the only names we drop.
And so I repeat what you’ve said.
I repeat the rain and the rules.
It’s no vain secret how to walk
around. It’s no secret
how to be serious. I watch. I listen.

               ф ф ф

We could be anywhere.
But we’re not.
We’re in the middle of some serious secret.
We’re in the middle of some secret street.
We’re crossing at sunrise.
In other words,
constantly the middle.

And the buildings are made of bricks.
Nocturnal, do bricks burn?

It wasn’t me who lit the match
but I was the one to blow it out.
I don’t remember how I got there
or how I left.
All I know
is that it was serious.

I assume you say what you mean.
In other words,
fire only makes ashes
no matter how lonely you are,
or which train you take.

Are you lonely, Nocturnal?
Is that what you’re trying to tell me.

Lonely is only an empty sidewalk,
an empty bed,
a sad song with no one to play it to.
And empty is just that.
In other words, weightless.
In other words, quiet.
In other words,
after the fire there was no sound.

I don’t know how you got there
or how you left.
I don’t know what secrets you have in your head.
All I can assume is that you knew what you were doing
and you said what you meant.

Did you watch me watching
the flames die.
Did you watch me watching
the sky grow
constantly more empty,
constantly more middle.
In other words, Nocturnal,
do you watch me?

               ф ф ф

Watching is serious.
But you know that.
You know the empty middle.
We could find it anywhere.

This city stands, vertical
between winters,
and when it burns, it burns
a shiver down. A candle
sinks into the Hudson.
A shoe. Another and another.
Every dawn I imagine
the city sinking into you.
Like watching so much
confetti disappear into a New
Year. Light into a river of ash.

Anywhere the gash of night never ends.
Anywhere a devil laughs
over a pyre of street signs,
and the sidewalk is empty
dancing, circles to no music.
Because no sad song exists
in a silent fire.
The sad songs they save

behind an unmarked door,
hidden in a jazz basement.

It’s no secret, Morning,
It’s only November.
It’s only leaves crossing
avenues in the wind.
I am lonely, and
who wouldn’t be?
I’ve felt no caresses,

I haven’t spoken
to the sun for days.

The Village is fading
into grey wool and black
dresses. In other words,
winter. Its dead leaves are ready
to burn. Aren’t we all.


I know
you don’t carry matches.
You’re always asking
for a light. I don’t blame you
or I for smoke
in an otherwise featureless sky.

I watch the weightless
embers soar. After the fire
I watch the sun
to see if it can burn
a silent silhouette of your face
into the red
bricks on my livingroom wall.

In other words,
after the fire we both watched
the world go home alone.

Travis Cebula lives and creates in Maryland, where he teaches creative writing and publishes chapbooks under the imprint, Shadow Mountain Press. His poems, essays, stories, and photographs have appeared internationally in various print and on-line journals. He is the author of five chapbooks and two full-length collections of poetry, Under the Sky They Lit Cities and Ithaca, which will be available this Fall from BlazeVOX Books. In 2011 he gratefully received the Pavel Srut Fellowship for poetry from Western Michigan University.

Sarah Suzor is the author of It was the season, then. (EtherDome Chapbooks), Isle of Dogs (Toadlily Press), and The Principle Agent (Black Lawrence Press). Her interviews and reviews have appeared in various online and print journals including Rain Taxi and Tarpaulin Sky. Her poetry has been published widely, as well as anthologized, translated and nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She lives in Venice, California where she is the founding editor for Highway 101 Press, and a guest lecturer for the Left Bank Writers Retreat in Paris.
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