Unkind Square

In Unkind Square

men posture and women snipe
The infinite infant wails and demands

what they demand of each other:

Why aren’t you me?

A woman smiles the troubled smile

of a woman who believes she must smile

A nervous man glares out

at the assembled jury of his strangers

We’re all living

We’re just all doing it a little differently

You don’t bitch at the pine tree

So don’t bitch at me

they fidget-plead with their elbows

shoulders and knees

The jury says good point,

except they

would have said it differently

All That Was Left

for Samantha

Oh inspiration
Oh woman with whom I share breath

you who rescues me daily

from the prison city I’ve piled

on the shores of such bloody thoughts

There’s a law at the altar and a law at the gate

a sign carved on the doorpost

and pet names spoken in the house

where children dream

that all names and laws might coincide

You find me near the true city

in view of its porticos archways and cupolas

whose bull-necked stonemasons never admit it

as they turn the mountains to lace

There you draw from me this approximation

of how the stars sprayed

across the ceiling of all that was left

when I tired of lying

Apex Predator

On a tranquil afternoon

the architect and pissbum shout themselves hoarse

telling off gangs of phantoms

Check the lines in your palms

like the lines in a stream bed
Check the crick in your neck

to make sure you’re not a metaphor
It’s inconclusive at best

Every minute of every hour overpowered

by minutes hours and kin too insidious to tick—

real apex predators, herdsmen and butchers

in whose thrall you are

Their primary business is reassurance

Expressions of money and archaic arguments

printed on the skin of pretty women the hats of young men

the power of Christ by which you compel you

and the nostalgic eroticism of a subway ad

the ownership assigned others over yourself

and the authority imagined in return

Forever late to the debate

the young duped and devoured as bad as the old

Lingering by the hat shop and hair salon

limbs wrapped in cellophane from a recent tattoo

placating warring masks in one more tithe

from a conscious species to a living oblivion

Befuddlement and apathy

stand as the most potent freedoms

before this mummifying beast

in whom the past is the guts of the present, the present

is the mouth of the past, and the future,

you know by now, is nothing but food

Evanescent as precedence

in the procession of rush hour, you jostle

for preeminence in that deity’s diet

Alison Scarpulla

Colin Dodds grew up in Massachusetts and lived in California briefly, before finishing his education in New York City. He’s made his living as a journalist, editor, copywriter, and video producer. His writing has appeared in numerous publication and a collection, Spokes of an Uneven Wheel (2018) , is available through Main Street Rag Publishing Company. He’s also a screenwriter, short film director, and builder of a twelve-foot-high pyramid made of PVC pipe, plywood, and zip ties. One time, he rode his bicycle a hundred miles in one day! He lives in New York City with his wife and daughter. You can find more of his work at thecolindodds.com.

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