Christopher Blackman


After the flood there followed the draining, there followed
the first thaw: water receded, giving way to monstrous greens,
massive walls of kudzu that overtook it all. I held you

on a hill of bentgrass where the crosses were rowed
beneath a sagging banner. Bunting remained from an old parade,
the way smoke lingers after the house is already burned.

I thought of another time in a shaded grove just before
the revolution when I was keeper of the king’s roads—I set
a table and two chairs up in the wilderness and it was tamed.

Sir Joshua Reynolds, The Honorable Henry Fane (1739–1802) with Inigo Jones and Charles Blair

Swan Dance

Tonight I watch a video of swans
reunited after being apart
and I am glad. We waltz along
the empty castle, singing

Happy New Year, baby, penniless
and wired, even though it isn’t
the New Year, even though it isn’t
Christmas yet, and just nights ago

I was in the ER with a fever
that wouldn’t break, in the waiting room,
next to a man who woke on occasion
to bellow threats at the staff. He held

his guts and rubbed his temples
at the same place where once
a great American tenor shot himself
with a BB gun and died six days later

because, he said, a wounded bird
cannot sing. After the waltz, we watch
from the blinds as a figure climbs
the construction site across the street

to the tallest point and lifts each cinder block
from a pile above his head like the Eucharist,
before letting them fall. When all the blocks
are in pieces, he climbs down and walks

off into the unlit alley, towards the squealing
friction of trains slowing on the tracks
at the place where an engine once derailed.
Life is just like prestige television:

an ensemble cast, always changing, diminishing,
always replenishing until someone asks whatever
happened to so-and-so and the answer is always
that he died, but no one can remember how.

Christopher Blackman is a poet from Columbus, Ohio. His poems have been appeared in Mississippi Review, TYPO, Muse/A Journal, and Atlas Review. He currently resides in New York City.

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