Directions for Lines that will Remain Unfinished

Sarah Messer
Line to be sewn into a skirt hem
held in my mouth ever since the  unraveling 

Line beneath a bridge
for years without hope I stretched my arms into the river searching for you

Line to be sent to the cornfield
history is a hallway of leaves.

Line written for electric wires
your voice inside the no history, sitting still

Line for future people
inside the work, only my empty teeth

Line from Maharaj
Presently you are in quietude. Is it on this side of sleep or on the other side? 

Line that cannot be read because of its darkness
impossible walk under weight of honey
away from your hands that break me in half 

Line addressing President Lincoln
when the handle and blade are gone, what remains
of your axe? 

Line to be run over by a lawn mower
afraid of everything and to be of no use.

Line for a distant midnight dog-pack
because I can never speak it

Line to be sewn into a shirt collar
the streak of your finger across the hood of the car

Line for a stone growing old
a sunburst that lands inside a flower

Line written only with your mouth
desire is a trick ghost

Line for the garden weeds
slowly I am nearer to you

Line describing the better qualities of monsters
are we afraid of what we wished for? 

Three lines written for bears
inside cells, water, trees, I am meaningless
darkness and light wind like breath on fur
I carry the circling cities inside me

Line for a leaf blown into the hair of the Master
seeing you, I want no other life

Line for a mouse
to die like that, held in your hands

More by Sarah Messer

After the Election

Moonlight slept quiet beneath the grandstand,

like flower petals, like highway snowstorms, like each thought
not of November or battlefields. My moping climbed

the Pegasus inside my chest which sped me to you
in this last century of petrol, with my socialism wanting.

I dropped an ocean in the penny. It was November. It was
lost. My wish slept beneath the Pegasus, quiet

as a petrol station or the monotony of socialism,
as if each lesson was not separate from the thought,

but from the ballot box. Like a snow globe of wanting.
Like wanting thoughts not to be octaves. Not free

of the ocean, but of the battlefield. Like a grandstand
sleeping in moonlight, its flower petal confetti, its metal

steps like ballot boxes, sleeping empty now
beneath a dropped ceiling of balloons.

Prayer from a Mouse


Dimensionless One, can you hear me? 
Me with the moon ears, caught 
in ice branches?
	
Beneath the sky’s long house,
beneath the old snake tree,
I pray to see even a fragment
of you—
 			whiskers ticking
 
a deserted street,
a staircase leading 
to the balcony
of your collarbone.

Beloved King of Stars, I cannot 
contain my animal movements.

For you I stay like a mountain.
For you I stay like a straight pin.
		
But in the end, the body leaves us 
its empty building. 

Midnight petulant
as a root cellar. Wasps crawling  
in sleeves. I sleep 

with my tail over 
my face, enflamed.

Oh Great Cataloguer 
of Snow Leaves, I pray 
that you may appear 
and carry every piece 
of my fur in your hands.

Spark of the Sky Stag’s Great Heart

strung from a thought arrived through the keyhole grasping
the hand of another

I will begin with my mouth

then live with antlers remembering the light inside, always to breathe this unforgetting

and his body shaped like a crabapple tree

or a mother raised by a wolf looking back at the mirror

and trying not to break anvils on the bottles of blame

in another life: smell of moss, stream water, depressions of dark orange rocks which trap tiny fish

the consequence of silence: a field beneath opening clouds

on that morning I woke to the sound of the blue jay and used a small silver key

some day we will all be gone from this place

now that the live oak has thrown down all its caramel-colored leaves, thought lives in the ear-shaped idea of this only