What River Is This? by Jeff Bagato

Say it again, isn’t there a river to cross?
An old willow there
who sheds all the light
on your neighbor’s empty blood—
you test yourself, reaching
into an arm with thirsty fingers
and examining an artery
minutely, rolling a nerve between
two fingers and the blood drips
on your leg, the forked end
slithers in the air with fanning
wind and thus all the voices
you hear are quiet and direct

If your skin is scraped away
on concrete, examine the wound
for whispers; these may be
your walking papers—
your influence to pick up
a real gun,
                action
afforded by the word—
that is necessary—
action—the death of an enemy,
the life of a friend—advanced
by a spell

An old willow who matters
and there you sell your soul—

this river to cross

Crossed in death by the word—
and this is the spell,
the bridge—
go back desperate to notebooks
saying nothing—
looking for a river—
in your failure you keep swimming

A coin or a word is passed

A poisoned river in Guyana—
maybe it’s right,
as those who are to blame
may drink cyanide
and also die with the forest—

They perform rites to take
many with them,
of the wrong species

We’ll never give you a silent world,
one that knuckles under—
you will have to bring more
than cyanide to our banks—
we too have our tools—
odors and the heat,
the density of jungles to drive
men mad until they drink
first of the poisoned wells

Bastards, stay away from the trees

No, I’m just too tired
to fight today:
It will have to come later

I wish I could remember

Jeff Bagato 2

A multi-media artist living near Washington, DC, Jeff Bagato produces poetry and prose as well as electronic music and glitch video. Some of his poetry and visuals have recently appeared in Empty Mirror, Futures Trading, Otoliths, Gold Wake Live, H&, The New Post-Literate, and Midnight Lane Boutique. Some short fiction has appeared in Gobbet and The Colored Lens. He has published nineteen books, all available through the usual online markets, including Savage Magic (poetry) and Computing Angels (fiction). A blog about his writing and publishing efforts can be found at http://jeffbagato.com

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