In the Beginning

J.D. Schraffenberger

Observe what has happened,
what we’ve been up to ever since,
what we’d like to believe.

Observe the long unconstellated sky,
how it darkens at the edges,
like old scrolls, parallax.

Observe the papering of all our greater walls,
the bronchial, the aortal,
the cerebral and pyloric,
our innocent faces painted gray
to suit the blurriness of such desires.

Observe where you are standing,
the risers, the mezzanine, the far balconic haze.
What song will you sing?
How cheap are the robes you wear?

Observe for a moment the moment’s
passing out of our presence,
water to fog and the heat rising inside us,
falling onto, rising into, what remains.

Observe a word like rivulet,
how it suggests to us cause and effect,
the high and the low, something small,
like us, meandering.

Observe the coiled creature
sleeping in its place,
the untamed legacy of spine,
of breath, what this means.

Observe, as though it were a dream,
as though it were a tale,
the invention of the sky,
its arched back and speckled breast,
its many mansions,
the Cock and the Crux,
the Fox and the Fishes.
Observe your hesitation,
the first inkling of doubt.
How sudden it seems, how long it will last.

Observe the fatal stroke,
a coup de tête, graceless and fine.

Now imagine I have something
important to tell you.
Imagine what that might be.
Imagine what that might be.

J.D. Schraffenberger

J.D. Schraffenberger is an assistant professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa and the assistant editor of the North American Review. His book of poems, Saint Joe's Passion, was recently published by Etruscan Press.


Observe what has happened, what we’ve been up to ever since, what we’d like to believe. Observe the long unconstellated sky, how it darkens at the edges, like old scrolls, parallax. Observe the papering of all our greater walls, the bronchial, the aortal, the cerebral and pyloric, our innocent faces painted gray to suit the …

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