As It Was

Brian Clifton

On my lawn, a black plastic bag

wears the hideous skin

of a large bird — torso fully

defrocked. The meaty folds

                          wince when touched

by breeze. Every house

                          is empty, each

window a dark yawn. In the dark

a body is always slipping


                          through a dream.

In my dreams, I fell and jerked

awake. The nerves flashed

                          the mind back.

The body, misinterpreted

to be in danger, feels

in danger. Once I cleaned a catfish

                          on a truck’s tailgate.

Its head closest to my body

its flesh spread back from a single slit.

Like a dream right after

some violence,

                          the fish

                          just there.

I sway. Black bag,

                          featherless bird.

The streetlight’s clear juices.

The catfish’s dying lungs

pulsed though flayed.

Its mouth gasped slower.

The bag like skin

                          like ruined silk.

Beyond my lawn, the opening

door I tuck myself within.


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