How Can I Keep from Singing?



In the fall of frozen garlands the great

City never sleeps, and loathes the scrapers

Who turn their heaving lights down low at night.


Skating on the slippery brink of inevitable,

I liked the feel of skin against slippery mirth,

The demure duchess, shocked female-maternal,

Nothing: a lisping air slips in sideswipes

Of murky sky, fueled from night-lined feasting.


Come city, city go.  Thickets of winding limbs in the

one-two-three thousands of bedroom, office,

boutique, street, pawn shop, sex-shop red light

district reveries, we aren’t burdened.  We notice sleep.

We count the camisole warmth of weaving strangers.


A trace of him, and his smoke, and she is gone, done for.

“Livers” are one and the other, a chain of brooding lips

Stuck upon a sticky-petal drum cushion, You, long-in-wait.

Jazz springs from blue-speckled beer bottomed doors,

Meeting like this, we keep counting leased seconds,

And in the wake of heartbreak, there is revelation.



Write me, weapon.  Break a bone-brisk silence

On the stark solace of an expectant morning tow.

It will rise, the rinsed tide of sullen duty.

How can I keep from singing?


Julia Istomina