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Max Lasky


Off a cold cloud into the sea

              we dove, a swan dive trailed by

                            the tensioning line tethered


to our spines, what made us

              scale the endless ladder, the ladder

                            bending out of sight? We’re still not


impressed, we’re still not sure

              what exists, whether negation’s list

                            and listserv and bliss—never mind,


the masters won’t allow it.

              No weariness will drag us

                            to a chest, even if it brims


with gems, the hearts once ours

              and ours again if we wield

                            a crowbar, some strength, if


opened—no weariness will drag us

              now that the sunset’s been made

                            a suspect, now that the suspects reversed


the roles, no weariness now that

              the guideline’s been severed

                            by a gloved hand clutching


a bone handled knife, the knife

              dropped into the night sea, and us,

                            flashlights between our teeth,


lost in the wreck of who we are

              and who we set out to be.

                            We, the suspects, no different

from any master except in that

              we’re masterless, watched the sun

                            set on the east coast under the sea,


watched the world’s end

              descend in a blueprint, the cut

                            guideline snaking away like a snake


escaping to the surface, sea and sky,

              slithering through water, through air

                            as if slithering through drying leaves.


When we say the sea is endless

              we don’t mean in terms of space,

                            but power, as in the sea devastates.


We’re not tired, we’re not weary,

              we drain our hearts of the hurt

                            every night, we open our mouths


to roar, even here, underwater,

              we let out the pockets of air

                            that rise above and dissipate


before ever reaching the surface.

              As the saltwater floods our lungs

                            we breathe on, breathe deeper,


our lives seeking no more

              than the seal to our afterlives.

Max Lasky is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Leavings ( His poems are published or forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Frontier Poetry, Heavy Feather Review, The Indianapolis Review, OxMag, Painted Bride Quarterly, and elsewhere.

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