Patrick Cahill

     Sunk City

Fingers pinned against a gate. Sunk City, its favored hues gray and black and smoke and puce. Civic attire. The stylus a tongue inscribing its exits’ graffiti on the muddle we’ve become. A yellow bird flowering in the mud, snow flecked, slush to ash, a seasonal omen or error. Its black streaks breathe in the colors before they melt. Evade erasure mimicking night, its million streaming flakes. A yellow feather pinned to a coat, letting slip away its threadbare fabric of sun.

    Body Blur

You disappear a fog into another body, blur its supple outline. What’s left of you an incoming tide of chords, after image, spent breath. Who to whom am I speaking to now? A mouthful of sound, snow spray against a face, crocus up through the snow, daffodils or some yellow outburst. Wings that make visible the wind. All part of the days we’ve passed.

Night’s vibrations holding us in an aura of flying bugs. We cross the lawn, swat away the air we dream. Silver letters shimmering against the dark, flow down its dark screen in rivulets a cryptic storm.

	The Wilds

His left eye twitches     stitching off rhythms whenever the silent
signals arrive	     receptors wired     birds too their visceral patterns of
flight against the wind’s collapsing cities	     a burning feather a
scorched tongue     the snake’s timed articulation off beat looking to
shed its skin     but aren’t we all     no pleasures permitted he said till
after the revolution     yet a voice in the wilderness rehearsing still
backstage the circle its perfect absence     the dread at its center

     Strung together

after the collision of objects mistaken for birds, trees dripping orange, do you think this maybe a small thing, Miles in the middle register, muted, a wedding beside the waves, the long of it and the short of it, instructions along the kelp line, anxiety slipping into its coordinates, shadows stain the slope, his tilt into it a perfect angle, the plant pulled downward into the earth empties the air, the chambers of the chambers of—smell me, you said, again that faint promise of a smile, smell me

	Everything and Nothing

A hanging rope     suspension bridge     arcing under the seafarer’s 
bethel eclipse	     there     in another place     the ashes of their 
kingdom     a bird in the ruins     miming the blustery weather’s 
invisible handout     a signifying monkey     its grifter’s con calls up 
empty vessels     everywhere     the trickster     damp light shrouds the 
forest’s canopy     but in the distance a gold strip along the sea’s 
horizon     shedding into the troposphere

	Out and About

tubular transit     diegetic notes	     waver in the backlot	     a puddle of
   soaking leaves     she skips across     romantic remnants     call to the
aesthete     they conspire     walk through clues	     breathe together
     bird-dotted wires     above the alley     its musical notations spread
  across a sheet of thought     as waves of rain     saturated with
metaphor     sweep up the sidewalk     the lone ginkgo covered with
      yellow     fan-shaped leaves     their autumn

Patrick Cahill’s The Machinery of Sleep (Sixteen Rivers Press) came out in 2020. His prose and poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. A cofounder and editor of Ambush Review, he was also a contributing editor for the Sonoma County anthology Digging Our Poetic Roots. He received his Ph.D. in History of Consciousness from the University of California, Santa Cruz and wrote a study of Whitman and visual experience in nineteenth-century America. Portions of this work have appeared in The Daguerreian Annual and Left Curve. Patrick lives in San Francisco, where he volunteers with San Francisco Recreation & Parks in habitat restoration.
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