Tony Mancus



I step into the sleep
pose you are wearing
and there's some thin
fabric about the night
sets us wandering.

I place the screen
down next to us, it
folds into place, the light
like something underwater

We meet each other
against the back
of the morning. We wear
our faces like they've
been tried before.



The darling dark, again.

Come win some, sway. The sprinklers are all dancing here, their water face and spit. I know the names to call out when no one passes in their big wheeled truck, the distance between tired and what falls after waking to the noises of a day. I mean to ask what I’m supposed to take with me. For when the stars come back, when they recall their light. But not everything is simple splits between back and again. My vocabulary is distance, collusion. I fray the words into half sound and fail at made sense. The lease we know, at least, versus the building that crumbles. I’ll take these two windows and a time where my own body can come close to yours, can come to know it. Say the steam between two skins is an animal. The moon desires each wearing, sown to the dirt, the pause. Its old hat. A track to pin us back with. Early again, I wake up sweating and know that maybe this city is dead already. We are the dreams the machines are. We are the stolen car parts and yards, grass as green as when we left it for another fenced in yard. And then the question comes for what is owned. And what owed. Dower. Water face. The sweet hereafter.




My friends whose cat just died and who know we love them quiet now in winter through the warmth and no snow
My friends who understand how to put together a podcast and who seldom place their lives in my hands
My friends who are incapable of making a decision about where to go to dinner or who should be invited
My friends who have less or more than enough time on their hands
My friends who deconstruct the nuances of bad television programs in their timeslots and after
My friends who I can't convince to jump into the shrubs with me
My friends who own cars and who do not
My friends who I want to see more often as they raise their children and they progress through the societal rungs they've chosen to climb and dismantle
My Fire said friends are a kind of smoke to breathe then through meals and dimensions
My friends who stand on the corner with cigarette and coffee whether it's morning or midnight
My friends who understand the intricacies of infertility and the point of asking what next
My friends who ride the bus thinking of book shelves and the questions of men who shouldn't ask things like that
My friends sleeping in truck beds and the desert that kills them or at least takes their dreams
My friends who listen to teenagers make their lives up before them
My friends who score cities and traffic with their instrumental precision and their headphones to cloud out the game
My friends who manufacture law but forego their own healing for the future of the people or someone's idea of what is good and what is decent
My Fire says the capital can't capture its shadow but we are certainly under its flecked dome
My friends who've shared my life and it's stories - the smell of cut grass and the miles from home
My friends who measure their sugar in kilos their fractures in bone
My friends who kneel beside the wheels of trains to watch their stopping who drink the last of the water and fold
My friends whose cards are all star-dumb
My friends who mistake the sign for a singing voice in this tomb
My friends who are afraid of their lives and of death
My friends who scatter their whispers like shells on the bar after the oysters have been had
My friends who are objects and places and portioned
My friends who take pictures of themselves in the shower and in the street under the neon and weather
My friends who know everything and nothing like a still in the forest
My friends who are the ferns and the legs that brush up against them
My friends who sell chatter to the sleazy new neighbors
My friends who walk to work toting their lunch and their empty bags for the future
My friends who lay down in the shafts of blue light as the television blows on around them
My friends who stand in crowds and wait to fight, their voices like rags and glass and gasoline
My friends who wear dresses and those who do not know this comfort
My Fire says the lessons we learn are easily forgotten
My friends who are depressed and manic and placid with eyes struck with light like the flat backs of fish as the water fills with them and drains to its silt
My friends who sleep in their bodies like the dimes at the bottom of a well
My friends who wear their faces and the faces of everyone that made them so
My friends picking the pieces of trash from the side of the road and putting it in bags so that our traces will be left in heaps in some other state
My friends who are those other states
My friends who bare their scars to the ones they love and the ones they don’t
My friends who believe that reality is a series of concepts we agree to lay out again and again behind the laws of the land whether those or not those laws are written
My friends who dismember the rules like a pile of sheets in a shredder
My friends who are currents
My friends who are the way back through the empty houses and empty cul de sacs and empty apartment complexes and empty tents and tin shacks
My friends who have forgiven those who’ve broken them down and those who have not
My friends who march in the endless parade of signs posting and pasting and stopped up with words
My friends who are buried in the message
My friends who jostle the truth out from the mouth of each year, its thin noise and gesture like the act of being choked
My friends who sell and buy and throw out their wants
My friends who have nothing
My friends who think they are the things that they have
My Fire says yes to all these advances welcoming the approach and the chance to warm something new
My friends who are breaking the hearts of the children they were
My friends starting to dream with their arms and their muzzles, the paint colored sky
My friends who are matches and a pile of cords
My friends who are dying with forms for their parents
My friends who blame winter for being too warm, their lists in the patterns of dead branches
My friends who are knives in the water cutting their lines
My friends who have places to go and people to be
My friends who are walking the highway, its lights in their shadows, its dark moving through them
My friends who are found nowhere now found together
My friends who can press on the dirt and know where to go
My friends who stand so well against what could move them
My friends who fling salt into the seats and across the crowds that've gathered
My friends whose plans are immaculate until they’re enacted
My friends who are drains and receptors
My friends who believe the future will pass them
My friends who are the pasture
My friends who are led to the hem of the land, belting their beliefs like a bell that’s been beaten
My friends who are behind them next to them beneath them and kind or not watching
My friends whose minds clog like the street drains full of crushed cans and maple leaves
My friends who want to return to right now
My Fire says the built parts of each of us will fold down too in time
My friends who are cutting their hair in the mirror
My friends who jump over the wall
My friends who unleash their dogs in the playground, those dogs look just like them when they play and return
My friends who keep lockets with pictures of loved ones
My friends who dance on the sidewalk and gravestones and parked cars and stages
My friends who sing songs that bend at their edges, warping the rooms where their noise grows away from
My friends who are statues forever unmoving
My friends who see the world for its failures and patterns
My friends who know we’re all gonna get it
My friends plant tomorrow with a shovel full of questions
My friends who are welcome strangers in familiar outfits and are jealous of their neighbors’ lawns and soft lighting
My friends who woke up in a hospital bed today with the word of the cost to keep them alive
My friends making deals with the machines they compete with
My friends who are experiments in trajectory and chance
My friends who compose themselves whenever they’re asked to
My friends who are talking through all their travels
My friends who can’t say where their home is
My friends who are trapped wherever they are
My friends who open their chests and their doors
My friends who are exposures not yet developed
My friends who are signed names on the water
My friends who know we’re living inside of each other

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