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We haven’t moved from this pier in a couple years.
All we need to do to be happy is point out fish.
Sure, we’re just pointing at ripples,
but we know they’re fish
because a long time ago we ate an oyster,
and every time a fish sees another,
you and me get fed again. Elizabeth,
when you put your hands to the scales
the senses lose weight and
a new full that doesn’t hurt me
can last in my stomach. The bulk of the meat
you thin into a braid of arrows,
and the gills, the difficult scissors taken inside
to breathe, they’re just wide arrows.
A kind that points—
like a hand tremoring
because there’s a past being pointed to
that already understood the present.
Nobody Asked Anything
Nobody asked anything, and then we suffered
and our words hooked up to the sky
and there were questions. Questions led to science,
which led to pills. But we suffered and
there is no pill to treat time.
Douse the fire and the candle sheds water.
Under new light, the dark, I write,
the hot fat drips lumping
and water dripping now
over the columns of fat it made.
Always movement, even the ground moves,
nobody asked anything but still
the bodies hook up: when we run out of air
we fill with foul gas.
I am too weak for sexual urges anymore
but I yearn to be naked
all the time.
I want to urinate without
having to pull off
The world wants me to know
it’s okay to slip into and out
of her. She likes it.
When I die, make sure
dad doesn’t screw a hat on me
to keep the brains in.
And let nobody put a shirt on me.
Let death put her cool head
on my stomach for a listen.
I want every hole naked:
the pupils, nostrils, the two
below my gut. I want to listen back:
I can hear already
a roaring in the distance,
half salt, half horse,
I like this, I’m scared, but
so’s the sound. We’ll both
Max Ritvo’s debut collection, Four Reincarnations, was published by Milkweed Editions shortly after his death on August 23, 2016. In 2018, Milkweed will publish Ritvo’s The Final Voicemails, a collection of early and late poems edited by Louise Glück, as well as Letters from Max, co-authored by Sarah Ruhl.
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But I do miss the hymns, / the small, hard apples with their dimpled skin. I do miss / things.
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