The Brooklyn Rail

APR 2018

All Issues
APR 2018 Issue





After he passed it was okay to love again.
The look alone in dimday stalled
Process that way. It carried on.
As in, what kind of world was forever?
Day lilies in a green glass decanter.
“Am I too sensitive?”
“Where is there to go?”

It’s simple: “I text you. You text me back.”
So life creases as negative results
Come, and at least the waiting is over
We can continue parenting this tone.
The next life is the same. I’m the one on the left.

Meanwhile, the don’t-touch-me drive
In charge of this freeing sick day
Faces us, then backs off
Into supernatural distance. Yesterday resolves.

Clean wind from an unmotivated blue
Out-there, off-brand — whatever. To live
In the pattern of abandoned minivans
Coiled in the cabbage rose of life. The sheeting
Slants of rain and symptoms of
Plastic grief consumes me
As I update my “hometown.”





“The three basic strategies underlying writing systems differ in the size of the speech unit denoted by one written sign: either a single basic sound, a whole syllable, or a whole word.” And then there was Phil.

Weeds kept us in though we were wanting desperately to sail off. Our ship ready and so on. Our affairs in order and the last banking needs fulfilled. What was healing about it was the dispassionate way in which he could switch in and out of devotional stillness.

A few bottles of sparkling water, pretzels, roasted almonds, turkey jerky, mint gum and black tea.

There lay the foundation for understanding all of human history. And then there was Phil, slightly drunk in the afternoon, crouched against the store wall making a phone call.

Days the footsteps followed one style. Sunlight hitting the bubbles in a glass of ginger ale and piles of greasy cardboard, reminded one only of the sadness recently involved with lunch. It wasn’t too late but it was too late to walk back what had been said in the freeing blindness of gin.





In stone. In gold. In blood.
Your life unfolds and obscures it.
You run to it. You run away from it.
Exchanges of pleasure
Zero the ripeness of desire.
A grave dark raises its flag.
A green road curves up a white hill.
A bronze cloud says: Does this spell relief?
The raiment of my heart
Catches fire. Elsewhere, a clear day
Of hot light workshops the ground.
You are a child fresh with lies.
The marble years lay awake and destiny
Like an ocean bursts its foam
On the shoreline, cancels, rolls away.
These feelings, in late afternoon
Remain uncapcized, unswayed, unbruised.
Safe as milk. Up and down. North and South.
And yet, I hadn’t taken the cure.





Your _____ life. Stars, sun. Halogen lamps pound the empty. Worked from clay…

The door opens and your eyes open and the morning glories open. Yet, days…

So fast the first sour dawn in a season activates this “phase.” You can’t rejoin the cracked homecoming of time but seek to.

Three breaths in waves make the eyepins turn. The air, plump, nets fragments of weeks like small tropical fish.

The rerun of deranged woe will end and this alone will rally the tulips. I do.

As red years storm by—lips, also red, wait again to spread—to make a new sound.





There were two lovers. Then there was one who remained embalmed with nights too quickly drained of their bathwater. Lavender oil in his hair in her hair in his hair. In his hair. A good scrubbing came and warmed the entire room. The inferior years of lapsed hygiene encircled the porcelain like dawn. And so eagerly one waited for a second rise. The blue pearloid lord of chords coming through. Pop.

That kind of evacuation. Elementary feelings and so on, devouring each lump of sky.

Meanwhile, the congress of spring revived its vows grinding chainsaw night. Abandoned wishes and the full canary belltone boomeranged in the trees. Autumn. I’m with you. I’m without you as a mouse shits freely and tears at the plastic of our lives.


I reached into the pocket of his robe, fingering the delayed green token of some spanked future… “And between the rags of my will I reset my senses. Clay baked around the old world. Stars choked the night. A kind of thunder unburdened the dark and loosened the fibers of my nerve.”




Douglas Piccinnini

Douglas Piccinnini is the author of Blood Oboe (Omnidawn) and Story Book: a novella (The Cultural Society). Piccinnini’s work has recently appeared in Boog City, Denver Quarterly, Elderly, Fence, Lana Turner, Nat. Brut, Posit and Prelude. He lives and works in Lambertville, NJ.


The Brooklyn Rail

APR 2018

All Issues