There are ties that bind
your lips so as to save silence
from the mark of sin – strings
of sense, knotted to keep love
from shimmying out the breeze-
broken window and scuttling
across the rim of ancient fountain
before blending into a sea of tourists
and thieves. There is an unbearable
weight I carry for another man,
one I do not love. A part of me fears
the sated sleep of lovers in the city
of your birth and my peace: it knows
a place in the firefly night, a borough
of the city of light, that will crumble
into its gypsum base with the caged
fury of a chained slave. I know the face
of honesty that arrives, unbound
and unbidden, with Villon’s knife2
glinting in the grin of a knave.
There are too many reasons
I have begun to pray.
1 Somniloquy: the act or habit of talking in one’s sleep.
2 In 1455, a priest attacked the French poet François Villon with a knife. Villon fought back, and the priest died of the wounds he received. Villon fled Paris, returning in 1456 when he received a pardon through the influence of friends.
Give me two strong legs and an eye
for detail – then we’d really
have something. Whether we are
what we envisioned ten years ago
wasn’t the question, was it? It shouldn’t
have been, even then. You keep asking
me whether all this is enough. But
there are too many questions to your
question, sweetheart, and not enough
time before the next act takes this
revolutionary stage of decay.
About the author:
Alyssa Nickerson is the twenty-three-year-old product of wondering and wanderlust. She was born in Vancouver, Canada, and has since lived in New Zealand, Washington DC, and Chicago. She has attended the University of Colorado at Boulder and plans to attend the Savannah College of Art and Design later this year. Her work has also been published in Poetry Quarterly, Downer Magazine, Bone Orchard Poetry, and The Camel Saloon.