persons Kelli and Nicholas Christian, poem

Kelli and Nicholas Christian are internationally published poets and fiction writers. They currently live in Changchun, China teaching literature and rhetoric. When not working on their next full-length collections, they spend their evenings watching Cutthroat Kitchen with their two cats, Sharkbait and RV Winkle.

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Even Hutongs have their Minotaur

There are fourteen balls of twine
between your calf and Crete.
A man unrolls each into one
language—exile means never
sleeping. Every night the smith pounds
flesh for silver just before the sun
tucks ash into sea. Misshaped, the old
feet know the story of our ugly labor.

When we ask the monster to bow
his head, it is necessary to consider
that prayer is not without tariff.
What is in him is in us, this difficulty—
amber-cast—preserves the builder’s plans.
Lemon trees planted in the morning
say this way, and by night? Dark ripens

the fruit into a double wind. Friends, hearts
are wood and sail. Our cupped palms, laden,
take water, still salty, from boat to mouth.

~

person Nicholas Christian, three poems

Nicholas Christian is a poet whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in TAB, The Lindenwood Review, Cobalt Review, Rat’s Ass Review, Off the Coast, Poetry Quarterly, Poetry City, USA, and elsewhere. His work explores the significance of world mythology, initiatory rites, and further what it means to live in a modern place and age where they are sorely needed while frequently absent.

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Waking for the Shipwreck

What have you done with the garden that was entrusted to you?’
Antonio Machado

We leave behind so little ash—what a gift!
Keep cutting and casting yourselves down,
these thousand deaths dress in loam
with nurserymen eyes.

When the chafed fingers of Desert Fathers
snatch up the last wildflower, we know
what brings the flood. Our hands are tired
of putting so much water

into our mouths. It’s true
some small trees bare no good fruit;
we say: with these make a ship,
and act surprised when it begins to burn.

Blind Salome answers, “Do not speak,”
then, “so, are you ready?”

Broken Slopes

It’s alright if the minotaur weeps at Kierkegaard’s stallion.
What is water without its pint of salt?

Sometimes a wolf learns its last dance and every black eagle
gives away its life—so what if we are good sleepers

who bite themselves into thread. What can we do?
Stir an eye and Izdubar sleeps on the serpent;

why should we breathe so hard at the edge of things?
History says, “It’s not personal.”

When the glass bottle washes ashore empty we begin to sing;
it is a full voice who finds the Ocean too is lonely.

A Night For Whittling

We know plants growing in the dark are thin,
that our child always gallops his face towards the sun,
that trusting a chariot in the lurch is the night

we string up Liszt with fingers that refuse to bleed,
and die fifty years later without learning to dance.

We know that draping the tallest trees in wool
won’t help them burn, so when Philemon speaks,
in right hand passing the bull’s thigh, and careworn a ring
of keys in the other: clever whose thinking sits upon many waters

keep shouting: I am simple! I am afraid!