I Was a Boy / I Was a Stranger


He was a little late, and I was going

to be a moment. I unfurl ears like sails


and ride the breezes. I think I could

have been my life. I really think so,


had I not gotten bogged down

in the hum of the refrigerator, its sly


static. I don’t know anything

about anything, the frangipani


or the streaked mirror. I was so close

to you, each song spilling notes


in a pile. Even the dog knows

something is up, staring at the door.


I need to leave, but I’m not free

of the world, its fading tattoo,


its seamed scar. I stop counting.

I let the alarm sound if that’s what


it wants. I was the one who was going

to be 100, the odd piece you throw


into a drawer. I was a long time.

I promised to be so happy. This sepia.


This nostalgia. Never mind. I turn up

my collar and head out, the streetlights


pushing back shadows. I am not

a bright light. I take the edges,


give everything a shake. My mother also

did this, running her hands over


the weave to get every last

crumb. That was a big honest idea.


I put it in a safe place. One

where it can always be found.


(italics from the movie Sunspring, written by Benjamin, an AI, using LSTM Recurrent Neural Networks)



Devon Balwit writes in Portland, OR. She has five chapbooks out or forthcoming: How the Blessed Travel (Maverick Duck Press); Forms Most Marvelous (dancing girl press); In Front of the Elements (Grey Borders Books), Where You Were Going Never Was (Grey Borders Books); and The Bow Must Bear the Brunt (Red Flag Poetry). Her individual poems can be found in The Cincinnati Review, The Stillwater Review, Red Earth Review, The Fourth River, The Ekphrastic Review, The Inflectionist, Taplit Mag, Muse A/Journal, and more.

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