Michael Hurley

by Michael Hurley

A brutal misshapen cold, and us unready. Whicker. Vessel-proof, failing. Dwarfed by things already shrunken. Wind making noise as it passes through our age, owls like deaf hands. The fire that, the child said, spread like peanut butter, and the men dressed as miners who came to wash it off and down the hill. A thing vital, saltlike. Bitten at the ends and welting brilliantly, seeming to breathe

like the new electric impulse to talk instead of grieve, or bread bags tied closed by wires wrapped in plastic. Some people rob their own graves. Little did you know their making faces out of you.

Like hawks say, we are machines removed from verse when the dying ends. Slipping wistfully into blackness. Outside the church for the deaf after service, gathered out front, hearing their faint hoots like brilliant owls. There were thirty-five brothels in Pompeii, the same as the number of bakeries. They say the women burned like bread.

You’re such a sensitive duck, you let things rotten. Big as bone. Like tomatoes on the sill. Wilting like it’s not a gerund. Or St. Paul, wilting. Some things stain when they don’t need to and we call those special things. Some things ask permission and some things are harpsichords. Some things have hammers and lids to pull them closed.

Ask me about a kind place for us and I will tell you about the ladder.
About being howled and stricken. Because, then, we took more care with wolves.

That’s how they found that dead man, the child said, looking for dead dogs. Like jewels or wood or the wicked owls that leave dead rats at the yard’s high edge. Burn them in piles of brown leaves and grass. All things either melt or burn. Bone can do both.

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 18, Issue 1.

Michael-HurleyMichael Hurley is from Pittsburgh. His work has appeared in the Sycamore Review, Weave Magazine, The Fourth River, Fourteen Hills, and is forthcoming in the Spoon River Poetry Review and the New Delta Review. He is the winner of the 2012 Keystone Chapbook Prize, and his chapbook, Wooden Boys, is available from Seven Kitchens Press.

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