Nightmare: Semantic Dementia
by Ryan Vine

My favorites

were the first to go:

verisimilitude, Constantinople,

crickets. Then went, plucked

from me, words I rarely needed;

but they were beautiful, nonetheless:

retribution, car port, fairgrounds.

In my chair at night, an open book

splayed, they jumped

from me like sparks; they floated like orange embers

across the yard; they lifted like burned paper lifts

from a fire: lawnmower, justice,

sweetwater sea. Some I’d feel

disappearing. It’s like that dream where

you’re on your belly and with one arm

you’re holding a dangling friend by his wrist

over some great abyss

and you know you can’t hold him.

You know he’s going to fall.

But fuck if you don’t hold on.

After, in the distance, the words dematerialize;

it isn’t complete darkness. If I close my eyes

I see outlines, white shadows.

But no matter how hard I listen, I cannot

hear them: calla lily, railroad, endlessness.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 16, Issue 4.

placesaverRyan Vine’s chapbook, Distant Engines, won a Weldon Kees Award from Backwaters Press; the Greensboro Review awarded his work the Robert Watson Poetry Prize; and his new manuscript, Shiv, was a finalist for the May Swenson Poetry Award from Utah State University Press. He teaches in Duluth, MN, where he is the Rose Warner Assistant Professor of English at the College of St. Scholastica.

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