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by S. Nash Woodward

Isn't she awake, there on the other side of the world?
I can't sleep, listening to records skipping from too many plays,
needle smoothed the grooves out.
Can't sleep, searching the ether for desert signs, trailer trash, obscure
I close my eyes and reach out over the pacific.
They say telepathy is available to all, you just have to tap in to it,
an invisible spume of messages crisscrossing the globe.
I believe them.

Somewhere eyes are open, shut, open, closed.
I feel them fluttering, lashes falling, sighing.
I am passing through the boundary, the separating line,
changing time zones and entering the other side of wakefulness.
My skin rills, I connect, misfire,
feel that epileptic color coming on---
Must have crossed wires with God
Sending messages to people far away.
Under your meta-taxing eye, my lie is cold
you name me in the hallway, way out
thermometer measures my reply-it might be a mix-up.
the carpet rubs our soles as we shuffle, shuffle past.
You reach to touch, but I flatten against the wall.


Keys out of my pocket now, I unlock the door and shrug
myself through. Neighbors.
You push on by regardless,
shouldering into the hallway.
We stand in the closet among the coats,
your nose is in my eye.
My wife's black wool makes you itch.
You try not to show it.
We stand there, breathing heavily,
my nose wrinkles as it touches your lips.
I look left, then down, stare at the streak of white in a red button.
You shift your weight from foot to foot, make noises in your throat
As if to speak.
At the gym, I finger my left bicep, the one spent nights built up
Slack and flabby now, plush white tone
you, you who were my spotter, left me choking
under the bar, the weights.
Recognizing what you were, wanting to do something about it,
I burned you in effigy, but wasn't satisfied.
Did it again, larger this time, stitched you in brown burlap
Watched your crooked toothbrush-painted mouth blacken and fade,
But it didn't make any difference. It had to be you.
So I waited from the junipers across the street,
Watched your lights go on and off. Waited for you to show, but you slept on.
Drove to the Days Inn, rented a room.
Went straight to the desk drawer, found the Gideon's Bible, green,
The color of my eyes when they are angry.
I read Psalms to cool down, reviewed the story of Absalom
He was just like me; perhaps he was my ancestor.


If I hire the right genealogist, the connection will be there. The sheets stick to
my skin, tangling
with me, triggering claustrophobic thrashing. Next room
over, a humidifier keeps my boy breathing
His weak lungs chafing at the dry furnace air.
Aunt offers her services as a religious interpreter when I visit. It's free, she
says: it's in the boy's best interest.
A registered guide to the unknown, Aunt wants to channel
Pope Joan for me, thinks her cross-dressing habits will rectify my self-doubt.

I walk towards the moon, a ball of margarine at least one-quarter yogurt,
And think of my son, his rasping breath loud in my ears. I see him, cradled in
the moon,
tucked under the edge of the maria. He is moving slowly,
glistening, shining, a fish seeking deeper waters.
He is hard at work, lungs laboring, heaving.
Hear it, the noise follows me;
The gasping, my God, my boy,
Out, out in the cool night.

S. Nash Woodward is a dilettante who pretends to be a serious student of literature.
He may be detected by his frequent use of scatological terminology. To his great delight,
no one has yet put a stop to the charade; and, having received three awards from BYU
for both poetry and short fiction in the past year alone, he intends to take the con to
the big time and sucker faculty members at graduate school. After that, maybe he'll try
larger targets, like the nation and, of course, the world. He also would like to take this
opportunity to thumb his nose at a.e. marlowe.