Wondering Where Death Went
By Sean Akerman
Ten years ago today I was in Paris for the first and
only time, and you were not there. Your face was none
among the people I saw at Gard de Nord, though all
I have of you is this sepia photo, your collar up, your
mustache well trimmed, your eyes between two deaths,
as if you got to tell the world what it was. And you did,
Rilke. The Great War made it so your Paris flat and your
belongings were auctioned off, and then it wasn’t long
before the leukemia through which your eyes were
said to stay open. Were you still at the sanatorium I’d
tell you that the surround is still without mercy, that is,
if you don’t bow down, your doppleganger Malte would
feel more or less the same, watching girls bleed out from
their noses on the bus, walking through cemeteries at
night, wondering where death went, its groan a
whisper – in your time – and, now, actually, a beep, its
particulars sent back to Silicon Valley for analysis. I don’t
imagine we’d drink, so perhaps we’d walk, but you wouldn’t
say much. It would have to be November, for the flora
would have to be lost, the wind bothering your gaunt torso.
And if we were feeling tight, I’d say that you gave me
no consolation other than a frame, the inexplicable
desire to live in sparse rooms in crowded cities, a way
to study wind, and an attention to masks. Whenever
I am dragged back to obligation I seem to be leaving you.
Sidling On Ghost Worship
By Sean Akerman
You stopped accepting the miracle of the Verrazano when smoke churled its scent to Morningside Heights. Entrapment in iron made you think of your first bath, but you didn’t want to. Later, you turned down the radio. A David Brinkley type was about to say how radicalization happened. Another day you would have bent toward the stories the way you can still bend toward the window pane. Static can be finely wrought, creased even. The greatest and weakest arguments for kismet have been composed by you.
If you could conjure a mirage, eaves would act as chutes from two towers, ferrying them back. The actual count of the day would be zero, made with the same amazement of a hand blotting out of the sun’s corona. Another dream saw calendars unscathed, no anniversary shamefully written in script. Tuesday bloody Tuesday. A moon on a nightscape chokes now. It doesn’t belong that near. You never cease to perspire. Once you thought the reply to a tumult was your life’s three-fold split: before, after, and never. Now with a machete you’re poised to obliterate the very moment you started to resemble yourself.
By Sean Akerman
The future is happening at the Boston gun show,
a gradual unfolding of commerce and violence,
no background check required. Diesel and sulfur
trace the parking lot, to have and to hold,
pulses padding the air space between barn-red
radio tower blinks, near. And not far off, an
alfalfa farm dies before the city limits, the silo vanishing
if you placed one hand just so. The country
recedes and swallows itself down I-95, bloating
so that it can only call out like that once broken wrist
twinging in damp, fall air. Their theme is the pursuit
of stolen largesse. Without malice they gather
truckside to drive past the city line where the world
turns square and red, splayed like a shot-at flock.
Sean Akerman grew up in rural Maine and moved to New York City in 2006, where he earned a PhD in social and personality psychology. He has taught at Hunter College, Sarah Lawrence College, and Bennington College. In 2015, he moved to the North Woods, where he writes and edits full time. His poetry and prose have appeared in Main Street Rag, Delivered Magazine and Theory & Psychology, among other locations.