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Book of Hours 7

It’s an outcry and overcry

tonight, this not

that I am, this knotted-up


What are you? Out-weathering,

ancient and unafraid

before even darkness was,

and what an and that and was

when you revved it.

My waking comes on like a chill

in pieces

touched away and you.

Book of Hours 30

Blank and still, I wait, growing

blanker and stiller in the still, blank night.

The rain starts up again, and because the wind

picks up, it’s an emblem of my mind,

no less absent for its turbulence.

I’ve been a turn that never turns, a book that never

comes off the shelf, pages musty

but moving through the millions with who knows

what light and dark matter? Beside the porch,

the lilac bushes are over.

What is eternity if not a long, long time,

like coffee, sex, and death embracing everything?

The bruising sky at sunset becomes a deeper wound,

the cut I am returning to a darkening sound

of ravens congregating in the trees.

Why does your voice sound like mine, notes

in empty space, gravitation’s tocks?

In this lighted city, and in the dark,

I sit in restless peace that is mine and not,

and there you are, savage, silent, waiting.

Book of Hours 31

Say this for once: twice is all I have,

I mourn and mourn and call it a day.

Already I’m my own corpse here in the shade

where my toenails grow even though

there hasn’t been life here for days.

But here she comes, my other one, with her songs,

worries, and plans—what is there but to go along?

I don’t keep calendars anyway,

and the tool and die works have closed their doors,

meaning the ghost of my machinist father

has nowhere to haunt but my dreams.

Hi, Dad, how have you been around all this time

in your black turtleneck and slacks

like an actor fresh from the Forty-Second-

Street stage? Whatever angels there may be,

let them terrify and sing to your rest.

Meanwhile, I’m decaying piecemeal,

and my meaningful other claps and marches on.

Jerry Harp’s books include “Creature,” “Gatherings,” and “Spirit under Construction.” His short story "Marathon" is forthcoming in Mississippi Review. He teaches at Lewis and Clark College.

Triin Paja