"peace in the dark," "an innocent bystander," "highlights from a country's splendid yawn"

peace in the dark

the television is tired:
the end of night is plague
returning with each new
smile crashing dead as oars
in bright water.
what kills me is chatter
that carpets the floor with-
out any loud anchor. what
kills me is the promise
of a perfect place separate
from the dirt in which
i dig my blood; in
which the sun shrinks the sweat
around my neck.
the television’s last bubbles pop
like thoughts of a stone tossed
in water; someone blurts out that
there could be peace in our time
if the great religions of the
world simply said, “let
there be peace.” man
i scream, how full of shit are you?
how full?
there are no great religions of the world.
there is no world either, only perfect glances
gathered in hand like the stems of flowers;
like empty boots on a battlefield, standing
upright and waiting for rain, or thrown,
bloody with fleshy legs into a cart.
the television is a plague and
i am tired: it chugs every night
in hymns and snores, the breath
ticking; the hearts feeding:
it is when i am least dangerous.



an innocent bystander

and in the center of town the
dead lay unadorned and nonchalant
crushing seeds in their muddy hands.
and in the center of town your memory
fills a pot hole. and in the center of this
town, accountants are stars and laughter
and ripe old things in porch pots.
and my flesh is a fan that cools the parks
and rips curtains as it falls from my body.
and in the center of this town, neat and
unprovoked, a book lies with a broken spine,
still readable, like a boat on a hill. it stumbles
as a wind tries to help it up, the pages
shuffle. and then it is silent and contrary as
green pine needles and snow, in the center
of this town which has moved too far for me
to see.



highlights from a country’s splendid yawn

is the issue
on runny ground,
and as you like to say
take my hand.
centuries are moving
land masses on a
board of chess: a
fragile goo where
no one moves as they like.
something like lava rain
something like mud stew
it oozes over edges,
walks on you and flies
uneasy as a butterfly
upheaving the cocoon.
even those centuries
determined by years
are round and solemn
as a baby’s face.
why should you shush them
with history? why
send them to the gallows
chasing fact?
it happens
where you witness
it occurs when you
whisper mama
too young:
it is the new family that is yours.
the new family vomiting
ruinous sons
who open doors and
beg money
with vivid blank faces;
like the hats on the sidewalk catching change.
those laughs from the fat ones
are winds that sculpt you.
the spilled coffee burning
in warm drizzle
is a putty knife
pulled down the slope
of a climbable clay hill.
if you could twist soil
through the waist of an hourglass;
if you could sink in sand,
obesity would be yours-
any country would do.
any country ends in a terrible place.



Livio Farallo is co-editor of Slipstream and Professor of Biology at Niagara County Community College. His work has appeared or, is forthcoming, in North Dakota Quarterly, J Journal, Rise Up, Triggerfish, Cordite Review, Brief Wilderness, and elsewhere. Livio recommends the Native American Rights Fund.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Monday, August 21, 2023 - 11:18