Bone Talk

You said you were chasing the big fire
out to the desert’s center
where the arroyos bloom
into a sea of light
and even the hares
have golden horns.
You said it’s a kind of dry bone 
that makes you call it
magical thinking,
and that even if you tore all the blue
straight out of your heart
you still wouldn’t know its final secrets,
wouldn’t know the difference
between cold lightning
and reviving rain,
whether it was a soul
hanging in those shadows,
or just a mayfly 
coming into being.


Perhaps we are more wound than consolation.
Our lives derelict, whether in Chicago
or the Himalayas, laid out on some
sunlit eastern bank, or up north
in the eddying snows.

Perhaps this worldly knack for losing heart,
is the same clay which binds
fallen tree trunks to the earth.
It’s seasonal, caught up in large
unnamable patterns,

but from the inner curve of the vista
the pain is equal and undeniable.
If we could touch only the great 
impersonal things: stars and nighttime valleys,
the occupations of the ants at dusk,

we would hold bright indifferent truths
like cooling stones.
But still, the lines the fire makes
in the palm’s long fissures
would need the one, blue touch

of mourning. The sadness that we feel 
in the dark rain of forests, 
the black spiral of alcohol and disease,
the lifelong delusion of angelic wings

cast-off from sixty stories overhead,
those winds driving you downwards toward
the street, the horror of bystanders,
the tumbling, reluctant thought
Was this it? Was this all there was?

We would need the sadness that weighs down
the heads of mushrooms,
those strange, gnarled figures bending low
in the moss of churches.

Seth Jani lives in Seattle, WA and is the founder of Seven CirclePress ( Their work has appeared in The American Poetry Journal, Chiron Review, Rust+Moth and Pretty Owl Poetry, among others. Their full-length collection, Night Fable, was published by FutureCycle Press in 2018. Visit them at

Seth Jani