Ode to Continual Loss

posted May 11, 2010


Finally, this plainness
I play host to. Play inside.

I could have sworn my
true purpose was to silently

lug the remnants of a city
around the world with me.

Yet, for now, I can believe
my life is big without

getting comparative or superlative,
can’t anyone?

Or, too,
I have had to bury
some of my homes.


Did I mention that I grew?
That I began to take care?

Whatever I could have said in prayer,
wouldn’t it have been the same as anybody? As garbled
from any second tongue phrase book?

Dear God:
Where is the bathroom?
What is the special of the day?


Eventually a boy was born unto me.
I recognized him.

He was my city and he is
my city and that

is not always fair.
How one habitates,

runs around making.
A city was born unto me.

Hypnotic boy happening
by with his dead father’s nose.

by with his missing uncle’s wavy hair.
My city is my exact same eyes

looking elsewhere. A mother’s
trained hushing. A boy

who has borrowed nothing.
A son was citied unto me.

He moves forward to where
I have always and never lived.


Dear God,
I am sorry that I get bored.
I love those trees.
Where are we?


Plus I like to slip my hand inside
pockets of coats in the thrift store.

Tall aisle of pockets. A subway token,
a neatly folded prescription slip.

A body lives inside a single day, then
The finished days file one by one

to live inside the barracks of a body.
There’s a turf war on.

Paula Cisewski is the author of Ghost Fargo, Upon Arrival, How Birds Work, and Two Museums, and the co-author of Or Else What Asked The Flame. Ghost Fargo was selected by Franz Wright for the 2008 Nightboat Poetry Prize.

We’ve published four more poems by Cisewski: “Thanks, Nebraska,” “Having to do With the Manner in Which we Transport Night,” “from The Poor Choruses,” and “The Museum of Natural Science.”