Jan Selving



Because she believed

            there was something


she could have done

            but didn’t


when a man pinned her

            to a metal pole inside


a train careening

            underground, touched her


beyond any flicker of doubt

            then disappeared


in a throng of rain coats,

            she walked home


past flower boxes filled

            with dying petals


folding in on themselves

            in stages of silent fury,


turned her key in the lock,

            and paused,


a black shape caught inside

            a doorway, unsure 


what to touch—it all

            looked as if it belonged


to someone else—

            then saw the photographs:


rising tides, rivers, forests,

            faces, graffitied stone—


each darkening into its borders,

            shades of gray


and black rising in the developer’s

            slow-pacing waves—


all come into their own because of her


she released them   

            from their frames


and tore them up. 


Abandoned Church at Cuchillo


The gleaming

                        is the whale—


a white stain on gray planking,

            a knot in the floorboard for an eye. The rest




plaster, coarse stains like torn hair trending

            from rusted nails.


On the cross, a faint outline

                                    of collapse

                                                down its shaft.


This church with its tin roof and

            vaulted crisscrossing beams

                                    is an overturned boat,


a storm gate trapping the selvage

                        of a swollen river,


uprooted trees, squid-like, massing


                                    with the rain’s

                                    battering din.



She returns


for the things    she left behind.


The lost    heat in her dresses

                                    hanging lank and


mean from their wire    hangers, those brittle

                                    silk flowers.


Sometimes she comes    straight at us—

                                    jagged sutures


sealing her mouth.    This place

                                    among the living


she’s stalled in, triage    before she travels



In the lamplight the air crackles.    Is it

                                                                  spite? …


this sound we’d grown used to     like fat

                                    thrown onto a fire.

Posted on May 14, 2015 .