our imaginary friend has the gift
         of appearing as a blood
                  relative   we had of course witnessed
                             the refinement of these early 
                                       innovations    the growth of the fire
                              in which we can’t
                  even hear you   in the night    each line
          a glass lion a little world
           as hermaphrodite
                   by the expedient of a tossed coin
                              in order to emend our errors
                                        this breeding ground
                              fills the entire world with 
                   the ugly signs of our visitant 
            it was a pity 
that the little girl saw
            our visitant   the ugly signs of it   
                   if admired admired for anything but 
                              a unity where meaning
                              powdery gold 
                   lying in wait  
            or sometimes something like a scream  
of which some were
            handsome and others 
                   not so handsome  
                              our minds stretched 
                                        as alive as we felt 
                              at that instant 
                   all the arms of the trees 
            grinding up men   
pursuing meaning  
            fleeing meaning   
                   it nearly collapsed behind us 
                              into the infernal pit 
                                        consciousness becoming 
                              other to itself 
                   into little pieces 
            we heard it hit   they felt it
hit    a masterpiece   we arranged
            for our dog to exercise 
                   its traditional power of
                                        dismembered parts   the beating
                              of its heart more intense with every
                   step   a masterpiece
            we had grown used to
unharnessing the tender flesh
            of scrapped taboos  
                   constructed in one spirit   
                              received in another 
                                        we arranged for a dog 
                              we were never at a loss
                   for ideas    our growing interest in 
            fragrant faces    against one’s cheek eyes staring
sightlessly at the sky  
            visions    bending and straining  
                   each line a little world
                              on a tongue  
                                        which death had not
                              stiffened     i must admit that i was
            things kept secret becoming
widely known by the blood
            dripping down  
                   but things were not the same 
                              devolving to dust and water a vague repeated
                                        grimacing nod    and the brightness 
                              that held us
                   well under fire 
            a crowded afternoon 
cured only when we stopped
            seeing our visions 
                   panting up the spiral stair
                              nothing but a straight razor 
                                        describing a slow semi-circle
                              in the air where the living are
                   most likely to connect
            with the dead    unstiffened  
streaked through with tendrils of black 
            these tensions explode  
                   wouldn’t you be afraid?
                              whatever technique you choose
                                        to prepare yourself  
                               a crowded afternoon 
                   on the tongue
            devolving to dust and water 
the last kiss given 
            to the witnesses
                   as the image bursts and
                               dissolves into plain 
                                        statement    a vague repeated
                               grimacing nod   
                   or sometimes something like a scream


Some consciousness survives—right?


He answered as it were in his natural
voice, the sonorous sound of metal
heavily smitten.

Over the fire his face was a great
study and a great puzzle.

His face was beaming.


Was he a devil?

He never said anything to the woman.

She recorded messages that were like
well-managed horses and could tell
when to stop or turn.

An almost universal death omen is the
bird that flies from a supernatural
worldview to a materialist one.

We had no doubt that the man strung
up by his feet would have a reason for
this belief.

Everything’s very ordinary now. 


I shut my eyes.

I could see her making her endless 
circuit, room by room and secret by 

I could not understand how these 
movements could be produced by the 
baby inside.

But I immediately recognized the 

The death of the body, that is, which
is one of the origins of rhythm.

I wouldn’t play you any music.

There’s, I guess, a deep place where a
person lives on, repeating and
repeating his last act. 

That’s one lesson I learned this

H8A1N5G7E5D4 M4A1N5

We were a great cloud of witnesses,
naked and white in the gathering

We would feel a sense of peace, as if
being loved by someone, the moment
the human vessel proved inadequate
with a sort of rending or tearing

There was no smell of rain in the air.

His hands were perfectly white.

Reach out your hand to my head and take
what you find there.

Take the charm away from me.

In those days it was impossible to
distinguish the healer from death on a
white horse. 

In those days our accidents were truly

At midnight we heard feet parting the
prairie grass.

We rose, with freshened eyes,
coughing a bit as if strangled.

Michael Joseph Walsh is a PhD candidate in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Denver and co-editor for APARTMENT Poetry. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Cloud Rodeo, Coconut, DIAGRAM, Fence, PANK, RealPoetik, The Volta, and Word For/Word.