“Salt,” “Saturn Waning,” and “Impressions”

Photo by Matt Artz on Unsplash


     “It’s terrible to think that all I’ve suffered,

     and all the suffering I’ve caused, might have arisen

     from the lack of a little salt in my brain.”

                                                    -Robert Lowell


The moon is a sliver tonight,

or at least it looks it

through the buildings and the trees.

Planted, four, in a row

like towers on a grid,

I wonder if trees can love.

Hedges partially obscure the

street, doing nothing to prevent

the light and sound

that flows past the leaves

like an electric river.

It hits me like the cold splash

of a real river, some time

long ago, though I cannot remember

where, it’s been some years—somewhere

in the mountains where

the snow runoff hurts my skin.


It flows through my system

like a real river. I can feel it

in my temples, in the softening

cup at my cheeks.

The trees in a row begin to look

like a forest, and the rushing of

cars begins to sound like rain

drops on a coursing rill.

The moon fills out, slowly.


Somewhere in the mountains,

now, not years ago,

there is no road, only a river.

There is no light, only the moon.

There is no me, only you.

Saturn Waning

In the evening, the juniper jumped into bushes,

forming a horizon line that rolled like clouds,

darkness meeting the navy of the sky.

At the top of the great fish bowl, two stars drift—

closer, closer, even as the town jumps into britches.

I sit on cracked ground off a road paved

with its own dust. She asks me what I’m doing

from another state, from the comfort of home.

I’m constantly travelling, yet I know when she’s awake,

finding no one else to follow but me, her hair streaks

the night sky, wanting more diamonds than this,

wanting more descendants than this, wanting

and knowing—stopped asking for more than this.

The voices in the skulls remain silent tonight,

their eyes forever casting down from the willows.

I am everything they ever wanted, standing up

with my feet readied for rain. There, deep

in my nursing heart, a tucked memory—

music drifting from my old cassette stereo,

music meant to make me fall asleep,

music that stays with me in the darkness

as my dreams flash like a sputtering projector

across my eyelids, until the many in the night sky

speak closer into the expanse of time.


       “True, I talk of dreams, which are the children of an idle brain,

       born from nothing except frivolous imaginations.”

                                                                -Mercutio, Romeo and Juliet


My idle brain is tired of paying child support,

my idle body, too, standing with one foot in reason,

the other, mid-air, already leaping.

Fear doesn’t need to be remembered,

and Hell is expression without likeness.

I feel the only way I can, even here,

where the night sky is so bright,

I color the stars black.

I mourn the women I’ll lose, the sirens

in plastic heels that call to me from the woods,

dancing around metal trunks, washing themselves

in rain—the wax in my ears holds as long as love.

She flies across the country to watch me write,

she soaks her body at the beach while I write,

she sleeps while I write, she offers to sit for me

while I write—naked in a chair by candlelight, I write.

Time casts us into different roles, nothing is sure.

I spend my days holding the forms in one hand, turning them

this way and that, stretching their edges, pushing in their sides.

I am older now, I live with the wind at my back.

I want to give everything I’ve ever spent, love in place of lament,

then see the sky as the ocean does.

Time sinks so lightly, I remember life

as fireflies hushed in the woods.

I am less than words now, I am a thought,

where, after we’ve finished everything,

and after the lights have shut off, I hold you.

About the Author

Alex Stanley

Alex Stanley is a graduate of Boston College, and he received his MFA from the University of California, Irvine. He is from Phoenix, AZ.