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By Hand, By Air

by Carter Vance

artwork by Alexa Gaffaney


It takes clock paces for bearded barley stalk,

that way your lemon dress shade kisses

the pool hall veranda’s hinky hinge gates,

that way you animate spare evenings with

whiff of whiskey mill bottler’s breath.

As you do, by crying losses kept brief,

by Bakerloo Line’s furuncle-jutting presence,

swinging on empathetic crossed tourist maps,

it’s made so simple by prune of pen,

by heatstroke sickness in EastEnder passion.

The clocker’s pace is ten-fold reason’s,

ten-fold a leisure stretch desire,

ever quicker with the limey brine of

fervent freedom at twenty-five,

and thirty times middle age’s soft regret.

Cross-square stitched a penance salt lick:

there are some things Limerick girls can’t

tell you off-hand, but some way, by air,

they make the nights swallow smother,

it it’s all about you, and selfish spirits.

Might be all of emerald fantasia

something sketched by bloodline, recorded to tape,

but it tastes of flippant fire, tossing

amusements on pyre as one-two punch-up:

summer-holding skin, fiddling collegiate fingers.

In becoming, melded gold plate,

resume embellishment taken too far,

that makes something so resistant, so quickened

from saunter of early hours’ wax paper chip crumb

conundrum: the ever-beaten drum of heart.

Fortune leads: it steels worldly changing winds,

propellers in azure,

we take to slip these same old fleshes.

Powers in allegiance like last time we held

in arms and breath, by air glanced knees, elbows,

But taken by the hand

to be.

Published inPoetryChapel Hill

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