Travis Cebula

après Bella et Ida à la fenétre

without glass, without glass
for windows:
She keeps her baby
and whistles to him
through a roughspun
Windwarm hood. he smells
dead sunflowers,
Bed linen, and flies
with the summer past.
and the summer is over.
and now Askew,
She prays
for your child too—
to fill out the Sun as the sun filled
the fields, please, God. buy
more blue than that. fill it
to the number of extravagance.
she prays, please—
keep this sleeping child sleeping
so they will not hear.
survive to bring a different tint
to Blue,
and another and another before the winter
will return.

après Le Soldat Blessé

still another soldier
looks through
his last eye.
He folds his bandaged
Head to the left:
his blessed injury is
left, an overview
of an epaulette.
Red gold of disrepute.
his beard has grown
long and fallow
and tightens as it wraps the form of his rib
cage. his hair is
delicate as the flower sprouts
on his chest—
some important person
tied a medal there with twine.

après Homme avec son chat et femme avec enfant

the fire rises, the family fortune burns
and they can think of nothing—
and nothing destroys them, as they run—
nothing other than
the nothing that swallows all and therefore
they birth into the world
a fleeting something like a circus—
a child, a hunchback,
the lameness of
a cat, and a miniature postman—
The characters found
Wandering the streets
of a sad joke.
later, when soldiers trample by,
Group all this grey and harassed
mass together.
only the white cat is not afraid.
and how the little postman cowers and prays
to blend in with the snow.
just as traders barter
their bones for borrowed
time, so with the support of the cart a ragged pony
drags its shards through the mud.
Such refugees sharpen their hoes to worship
the Earth
on which they will rot.

après Couple de paysans, depart pour la guerre

After the war
the pools of a woman’s
tears fill left
hand to replace
her husband who went away.
his Eye. He stole its white
Linen to wear like a patch on his chest,
where once her heart was like a butterfly.
he returns.
to prove that his war is over, they make love.
Sometimes they trade
weapons in the alleys. sometimes black
the flowers grow out of their heads.

après La Vielle

in one case the hunchback, and
in another case, a burden.
almost a man in this position
composes an essay on gravitation—
in movement the effort grinds,
Then life.
together with himself in the embrace of work
He struggles
to be crushed, as well.
without mercy, like boxes
bought and weighed.
history is not selected, it just fits
like your own hat. On the other hand,
The hunchback has a cane,
a waterfall, and a beard to draw
his Chin down. the question remains.
Thus was he born, but to what extent does he rely
on the charity of god’s dirigible chest?
What is the cost of the prayers he exhaled to fill it?

Travis Cebula is the author of six full-length collections of poetry, including Dangerous Things to Please a Girl, a sequence of Parisian poetry, and The Sublimation of Frederick Eckert, forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press. He is also a joyful member of the Left Bank Writers Retreat in Paris, France.
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