Daniel Lawless



There’s a pelican standing on one leg like a burnt-out light bulb,

And the low voice of a man like a far-off train

Reflected in ditch water.

The sounds of cars on the highway—

A bear with its head caught in a bucket.

There’s a suitcase with a little girl’s body inside.

The feeling of having forgotten something at the store

Is mostly what the soul is, right?

The bare patch rubbed raw on a cat’s paw—

For some, that’s the soul, too.

Maybe the killer’s.

His hands are like two famous brothers who hate each other.

His days flap open like the coat of someone running,

Days like lost dogs.

There’s a pink condom and a hairweave

Like symbols in a Renaissance painting,

And one of those red rubber coin purses

Like the mouth on Señor Wences’ hand.

When a breeze fills up a plastic bag

It’s like the stupefied face of a puppet in a jack-in-the box.

There’s the smell of meat smoke from a barbecue

Like a lampshade with a red nightgown thrown over it.

Also a bleached green button and a sunglass lens perfectly round

Side by side like a double sun rising above an airless planet

On the cover of an old-fashioned science fiction novel.

In the distance there’s the squawking of seagulls

Bitter to the ear like the taste of aspirin.

There’s a manatee out there, too, like a prehistoric baby.

There’s the sky like the pleathered flesh of a dolphin,

And the invisible presence of the stars

Together with their constellations

That form sea monsters, shields, and carpenter’s levels,

Along with the as yet undiscovered outlines

Of iPhones and the visages of pop stars and butchers.

When the waves retreat there is the trembling of thousands of seashells

Like the silence in a hallway where someone’s just finished hollering.

There’s a can of peaches that looks right at you.

Its top is open, there’s the handle of a plastic fork sticking out

White like the odor of Christmas ornaments kept in a box.

If you think she’s like the last peach, deliquescing in its juices,

That’s on you.


DANIEL LAWLESS‘s poems have recently appeared in The Meadow, Cortland Review, PIF, SN Review, Adirondack Review, and Ampersand Review. He is the founder and editor of Plume.

Read more by Daniel Lawless:

Another poem in B O D Y
Poem in The Cortland Review
Poem in PIF
Poem in SN Review
Poem in Prick of the Spindle