Because I am badly loved

The ghost is      not of Pasternak       or even

a ghost      any more      than you are       

though you will be        of whatever      

becomes of you      We want the epic     

but the epic wants      time we don’t have     

We can build     all the Renaissance Faires      

in the world       but the real Medici’s    

always lie in wait      in the shitty part

of Lyndhurst       across I-80      from the joust     

It’s the opposite      of what Georgia O’Keefe

said about flowers      and friendship      says

about the ease      with which one      can

save horses      from a stable      that’s not

on fire       or a fire from rain      in New Mexico    

The hope     you’ll cure me      of my hangups      

in a song       on your golden lute       is itself

my hangup      the misplaced exterior      

of a building        in bed      where the endorphins      

should be      Or if not endorphins       then at least

Pasternack or O’Keefe      with revolutionary

and desert-hued scarves      tied to the headboard   

I am on my tour       of top ten       emergency

rooms      to wake up in      with someone     

yelling clear       With only a couple left      I’ve yet

to learn      the new secret idiom       of not being

a total dick      That is    of behavior beyond

charming stasis       It’s okay     that we’re all

ghosts      but do we     have to be      ghosts

of something?       I want so badly      to not be

of myself      but I’m so bad       at everyone else


Duncan and Puccini, Two Thieves

There’s no failure      of divination      that won’t wait     

for you       to get your shoes on        One that calls      

after another        all the names       in the world      

until finally      they stop and turn      never revealing

if that was their name       or it was just embarrassing 

how off your guess was      when it should have been      

almost anything else       that one could have off    

a shirt       for example       or a sense of direction

Or being taken       with someone       the way a train

gets taken      to some far off station        or even

the spot next to you         where you put your bag      

until someone asks       is this seat free        and you sigh   

It’s the same in Kreuzberg       as in the East Bay       

not that they are alike       except in terms of pollination

and hexes        that can only exist there        and only

for a moment         A tone deaf detonation of names    

Upwind      we enjoy the lightshow        and down

the pulverized discoveries         designed to steal back

any eyes        that stole       the darkness from ours      

In the divide        we join their pursuit      to ours

of the tangy instant       where the seat      is taken       

and you sigh      because it’s taken        by the divine


Brendan Lorber is a writer and editor. He’s the author of several chapbooks, most recently, of Unfixed Elegy and Other Poems (Buttered Lamb Press). He’s had work in American Poetry Review, Fence, McSweeney’s and elsewhere. Since 1995 he has published and edited Lungfull! Magazine, an annual anthology of contemporary literature which prints the rough drafts of contributors’ work in addition to the final version, in order to reveal the creative process. His first full-length book "If this is paradise why are we still driving?" Will be published by Subpress in fall 2017.  He lives atop the tallest hill in Brooklyn, New York in a little castle across the street from a 500-acre necropolis.