the bells withdraw into dawn like so many stars wilting over the
dissection of flowers, the splintering spirit, the despairing disguise

here marks the lover's dying gaze - who could turn from this horror?
many times it happened, gain and loss, the inevitable exchange
of isolation

and so it will continue, like the crunching of bones beneath a dragon's
great feet, the dead smell of sun on woodlands, the absent tenderness

of a ship's stiff sail pulled on by no wind, so sitting, listless and
maimed by its own still reflection, erroneous as my breathing

the dream wilts below the heat of its chainmail, with the skull
removed, the flux that flows is like that of a once-hidden wound

I wait and wait, never truly dispelling my want for someone to look
in and see, but acceptance, pulsing somewhere, is strange to me

and only doubts are left to accumulate - do the dead tire of lilies?
passions, various, leave me; against my wishes, the light was never kind

but somewhere, the sea churns, the earth, like a beast, slinks onward
along the great plummeting brow of an indifferent universe and

all my bundled hopes, neat as the folded wings of an unsent letter,
root their day-blanched thoughts to dirt and carry away rumors
of me, somewhere, to be known


april comes, her arms molded with the longings of magnolia
the animal secludes itself, a single throat, and so whispers into
the dark: I have witnessed eternity

where I have gone, I have gone alone - there is no one to cast
pity on the stony palm of all my errors or know how each smudge of
dusk expends itself like a heart for nothing

no dreams, no agelessness, nothing for the world to remember -
when did I ever cast a shadow? when did I know a thing that did
not prove itself to be false? the footsteps, love's lure

that embittered itself - again and again - on the landscape of a window
never looking out; this is my singular belonging, this room, this color
the ghosts that come and go, watching me flail from life to life

the woods speak, the sky's infinite armament disarms itself,
the earth is sickened with what the impossible seems to promise
spring, you come,

but my eye is shut


one lone lamp travels the long
treacherous night of the soul

the flux of all yesterdays rots
below the skull’s hollow, removed

from the heart as flesh from
time’s chambers -

how much loss have you seen?
can you remember?

so profound, this eternal cruelty
to leave and enter the world like this

forgetful as a name, drooped as
dying flowers that heave over a

path that leads into nowhere - the lamp
illumines nothing, not even the stars

wink in and out, the terrible becomes


plainsong, old as suffering
I reach into the congealed pool and pull out
relics of death-deep moons
extinct, cold as love

I have been here before, younger than I am now,
did I learn nothing? familiarity haunts
like desire, and I am

drowned by too many dreams

the sky’s eternal armaments,
the avarice of dream-torn fields

we lurk as shadow-animals on the
outskirts of a longing we’ll never hold

we do not breathe under the soft light
of stars like quiet things, violence
muddies everywhere

together so many coffins are
slipped from finger to finger congealing
like blood beneath our earth

do we forget their names? aimless
as we are - who else remembers?


wolf, smokea season slipping

I begin to recall how I once was, the
musk of an old life
like a lily's claw, drunk on its own being,
asking nothing more of life
as it coats the weighty tongues of
so many, many dead

and so I have been despairing, and no disguise
can corridor this knowledge elsewhere: that I
had failed

but what of now? the running is useless,
the present stretches into every distance
drowned into
these empty fields

everyone knows the fires will return, so we build
nothing and wait - what I leave behind me is
a litter of crimson, the floor of a butcher's shop
mountains of hooves
wings neverdestined right

someone would say: that's heroism,
we'll be there too -
but what was I thinking of? I do
not know where I left her,
no other sorrows rustle these leaves
and I forget the name for them all

do I deserve it?

About the Author

Haley Wooning lives and writes in California where she works as an English teacher.