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going to the movies

what you don’t understand is
because it’s not practical, we don’t praise
phoenixes. when the ceiling caves in, we don’t
come back new. the water stays dirty.
the children go without a father. our turkeys
bring entire countries to the table.
we praise canaries because of the moments before
we stop breathing where we know
we have something to stop breathing with.
it’s not the hookers, but what they are capable of
that fascinates me. i misheard the entire history
of the world over two cans and string with you
when we were still young
yesterday afternoon, and the carnival felt more orange
than dirt and i’d not yet pissed myself on the ferris wheel.
i thought love and all this could save us
because the public school system let me down.
i fell as hard as sand bags fall through clouds
falling through atmosphere, falling through the pollution
above our town, that love it or hate it, is ours.
i couldn’t afford the sphinx you wanted.
i built a castle from the dripping lightning
at the edge of my porch where flowers open and jockey
for the rain that falls from the opening in the sky
where we rewrite our pasts.
i couldn’t afford the ghosts to haunt it, so i hung
my own. notice how close a changed man
and a hanged man are to each other?
notice how no matter how small i make my fist
there are holes that won’t fit it, like the yellow school bus
spinning on ice, and we the aftermath. we the town
that didn’t get to sink with the bus
and must now learn to add and subtract.



the jays were out
for blood today.
in my stomach
i’ve hidden my god.
making things from
the wrong sort of lakes
the kids with camera
phones want to be
loved too. entire countries
could have been saved
if someone would have said
a wooden horse is a terrible idea.
lets turn south instead.

the clouds make us
look local beneath them.
the sky is manchurian
in disposition.
this will only mean something
to two people in the entire world.
the rest of you will be left guessing.
it was still not too late,
before it was.
it wasn’t until long after
worms ate his insides
that anyone associated Ponce de León
with Florida. no one whispered
the word atlantis, the city
cringing beneath a cringing city,
except the kids that were lost
that stayed lost, mostly unaware
of the context for loss.
the cool kids got cooler
to their friends. the sad kids
grew into trees,
and some fell harder than others.
i had hoped for something
that takes getting used to.
the person in the mirror 
takes too much.
everything else is determined
by the jaws of life. 
i’ve been living on an algorithm
and black coffee for years. 
nostalgia is a bad idea 
and dim. time does not move 
gracefully. mercy as it was
recently explained to me
makes the person giving it
seem like a real ass, 
otherwise it would 
be compassion. had i known
the difference, all the lives
i could have saved.


Space is Place

space is the thing

we put things into

before we put them there.

this works with hearts,

footballs and laser beams too.

there is a special flock

of seagulls from a movie

we loved together,

and our distance is a space too.

moses in the desert,

talking to himself

in front of an innocent

bystander bush,

that’s a space. i quit

writing sonnets two years ago.

they would not raise the dead.

they would not raise flags

for people to gather. no one

gathered when i explained

no one gets sad when they are

depressed. sadness comes

from somewhere. i wake

like this every morning,

for no reason. it was never you

no matter what i said.

it was the sea green

blue i was lost in.

everything green blue.

i greened blue in the green blue

until i was the green in the blue.

there is no sense of end.

this space is not a boat

without wind nor the distance

between a voice

on one side

of a phone from another voice.

this is not a how could he,

this is the eventual letting go.

we are all dying,

i just have a better imagination than you.

i can see myself expiring like milk.

most days that is still better

than the alternative. the honeysuckle

and lilac were made up,

even when they weren’t made up.

so, astronauts never walked on the moon.

who really gives a shit?

everyone needs a hollywood basement

to pretend in, every now and then.



Keegan Lester is the founding editor of the journal Souvenir.  His work is forthcoming or published in: InDigest, Blunderbuss, Revolver, Inter|rupture, POOL, The Journal, Barn Owl Review and The Atlas Review among others.  He tweets from @keeganmlester. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.