We Can’t Swim in the Dark Two Prose Poems by Kyle Hemmings

We Can’t Swim in the Dark

You can’t love me. When you press your ear next to my heart, you’ll hear the swoosh of back history, dumpster mermaids and open hands. I recall the teeth of the night. No hot line for those marked with erroneous incisions. You still recite Marx from last semester and I still profess the world as my artificial limb. An arm that works like a fin. Not even. My words are clichés against your skin, borrowed from diverted divers, a whole Atlantis of lost head counts, when love was more expensive than crude oil under the sea. When I come apart in tiny rooms, under ceilings of asbestos and old paint, you’ll remember me through a straw. For awhile, you’ll bleed at a slow drip rate, not enough to disturb the neighbors. You won’t need goggles for the afternoon. You’ll learn to cope in increments of two. Cheat at solitaire in the afterglow. You’ll relearn to love yourself when the streets reflect patches of sky shaped like the islands in your eyes. You’ll nurse yourself when the albatross fly back.

After She Buries Him, She Discovers Traces of an Affair

13 love letters on yellow paper, red-lined/ written in large sans serif/ addressed to a woman named as H./ 7 euphemisms like Aztec Two Step, angels carried me away, asleep with Jesus/ two references to a minor Egyptian goddess named Heset/ a sonnet employing a Mynah bird as a conceit/ coffee stains in the shape of slugs (she thinks: extinct mollusks)/ a lunch receipt at the old Tick-Tock Diner/ and underdeveloped photo./ Interpretation?/ Merely a conjecture: an X-ray of the night, an opaque core, an intersection of shadows. Memory as blue dye on a nuclear image.

Kyle Hemmings lives and works in New Jersey. He has been published in Your Impossible Voice, Night Train, Toad, Matchbox and elsewhere. His latest ebook is Father Dunne’s School for Wayward Boys at amazon.com. He blogs at upatberggasse19.blogspot.com