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A Year in Bedlam

                                    Traci Brimhall


This is how the nights pass—the promising darkness
offers risk and the mournful songs of nocturnal birds.

A shadow overtakes the moon, crater
by rough crater. The waning makes us mean

and beautiful. Our bones grow treasonous without
the cold light, and what we can’t see but know is there

orbits again and again. This is when we bleed,
and we blame the mayhem on the naked sky.

In the speakeasy we find women dancing without music.
In the closed bordello we find birds burnt in their cages.

We love the invisible because we think it loves us back.
One night the moon returns to us as a scythe.

It widens, revealing its usual transformation and never
the absolution we ask for. When it is full,

the asylum empties, the mad rattling the gates,
calling their mothers’ true names.


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