Dennis Mahagin, 04/12

In The Details


You are not

a vacant lot, strewn

with crushed

candy gum

wrappers and

tumbleweeds, a lemon

Nova up on



You’re not vacant

at all in July when

it’s hot, plenty of dust

too where devils

exist, they do — reborn

every sixteen seconds

on the level keen

of sirens.


Must have seen

the reflections in busted

green glass, silver pull tabs

limning the salty shoals. How

many minutiae, before stories

get told? You, who are

neither field, channel

spit nor savant, now

would want me



… Very well the

arboretum, breeze blows

as respite, no judgment

on these long summer

days; shade tree, yes a

trillion points of sun among

interstices. That’s me,

and it will be



Nothing can save

the self but a soul now

that is something


else. Butterflies know

this too; most wise,

they carry

nothing. The best

of Coho spawned

is but a dash

of red on

the rocks. Rivers come

to suicide at the mouth

of every sea. You’re no

harbor, either, only one skiff

among motes of sun, rigged

for the longest glide ever,

the hardest



When it hurts

worst, keep finding me

in the strobe light of tree

tops. It’s mercy skirts

the vacant





Roget Between Spells


I was working in the den

when the electrical storm


crossed my heart


again. For nine

minutes or maybe


ten, I breathed

spasm, writhing

on the floor,

as the atria


like shutters

in a gale, splinters

of red nerve cell

flying hard from

the nail


of fibrillation.


Hope I knew

to be a word

for feeling you can get out

of anything, whereas when

it blew


over, an antonym formed

there in my den, bordering


on post traumatic, step ladder

to an attic room where terror

is kept

hydroponic like

in a vase. I said “I’m okay

I’m okay I’m okay I’m okay

I’m okay I’m okay I’m okay,” 

between gasps

I got back


up then, filed things

away, after the etymology

of malady, “I might, I might

I might I might… be” — skeleton

jaw and a key word for


Ben Franlin’s kite; it takes

guts to be a linguist with


a wonky heart


rhythm but “I am

not I’m not I’m

not certainly

not …” it changed

again how I felt about

thoughts, and


attacks… all that’s


past, and what’s left


to come back.


Not two days later:

of an early morning

another word, hung


up tantalizingly on “tip

of tongue” no less true

for being ineffable


nagging cousin of “halcyon,”

or sine wave keyed to tides,

great heaving gulps of north

coast in the lungs. Easy.

It takes a lot of faith to be


a patient: hunting a word

for a name to face any

thing… it slipped



Is it true what

they say? That it always

comes back, not by

“remembering” per se,

nor out of dread,

snapped digits or

anticipation: but only

when a mind is led


elsewhere: Could come

any second


now, in the atrium,

doing deep knee bends

in my den; or in

the garden where it’s been

so quiet, for the longest

time … I’m afraid I’m afraid

when the taste

in my mouth


starts to change.

Like last time, similar

but not really

the same … these

names have been

around since before

the Christ came.


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