Leveler Poetry Journal
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he decides to ask

if she’s ever followed the dead

her skull bobs a bit like a crane

and he decides she’s pretty       this woman-bound bottom-feeder

she draws out a road map

in ink that could be blood

and says something about

more people being alive today

than ever have died

her beak clicks like the end of a pen

and something of his protrudes

he gets a bit distracted      tickled with a feather

but collects a stable retort

from the furrows in his brow

he quotes french translations

about how cuteness denotes helplessness

and how   dear     existence is only relative                         to sight

i paddle through his little waterways of cleverness

watch crane-girl pack her throat with his trout

and figure he’s got a point

i really should get down

to writing all those letters

dear emily

i have to alphabetize you

dewey never needed numbers for loss

or regret

but these days when names seem to change so freely

when gone looks as good as graved

and when i keep seeing all your surnames

in the faces of women who have big ideas

about speciesism       bleeding out

perfect-scale streetmaps      i end up in mumbles about

how it would have been nice if someone had left me


to discover

i really would have liked to name the mississippi after you

ink out its bends

in the geometries your limbs make from the side

no one would ever question the way

your legs kick through colorado

how the lake of your fist drills

a hole deep into nebraska

or that new streams like fingers

carve through this city with their current

no one would ever

take the time to check

when they could just tell me

what a great map it is

and point to the places they think they’ve been

Jeffrey Allen