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Sep 8 · 93
hypothesis
Em Glass Sep 8
Why is there so much sugar
in cake? Why do we never notice
mosquitoes on our skin
until it's too late? How do some
butterflies travel farther
than some birds? How
have you not heard me?

How come an eagle always
soars overhead the minute
my camera dies? How come
it's so easy to lie?

How can the lake look so much
like an ocean, but I
always just look like me?

A cloudy sky offers so much
more than a clear one--
more texture, more tough.
There's not much salt in
Lake Michigan, but
there's probably some, right?
That's gotta be true?

I'm sorry I like you.
scientists ask more questions than they answer.
Aug 28 · 96
Northwest
Em Glass Aug 28
In a land without hills
there are as many bicycles
as people.
There is a synagogue
with a steeple.
For every boy on a swing
there swings a man
on a pendulum,
explaining Illinois to you
like he invented it.
Jun 17 · 240
storm week
Em Glass Jun 17
All week
they have been predicting
thunder storms.
Each day I checked
the news and grabbed
my raincoat
off the hook
on the back of the door
before walking through.
Outside the flash
of every turning car’s
headlight shoots
the gun that starts
the race—
my heart is off.
All week
when a squirrel snaps
a twig I cringe
and tuck my ears
into the collar
of my jacket
but there is no boom.
There are only clouds
and humidity.
All week
I’ve been waiting
for the sky to crack.
I’ve been
waiting for a heart
attack that’s worth
my while.
I am not ready
to breathe
the moisture in the air
but hang my coat
up dry.
To realize I
am not excited
to see you.
But there is no boom.
I am just the fool
who covered her ears
for nothing.
Apr 28 · 49
cantilever
Em Glass Apr 28
Listen—sometimes I forget
where to put the x's on checks.
I still pat my empty pocket
with the hand not holding
the keys.
I am still relieved
to see the butter knife
                             cantilevered
on the edge of the sink
when I get home.
Somehow I thought
in the depths of my day
that the crows
would have gotten
to it by now.

I am still practicing personhood.
I am still finding my own way
to pack a suitcase:
roll the t-shirts,
stacked close-packed
like lumber, then folded
flat the sweaters
alternating like bricks
in the most efficient
way to maximize permutations.
Why aren't clothes ever
just clothes? The problem
is the answer: people grow.

I can count to thirty to nudge
my breath back onto the tracks
but I still can't yet know that
falling in love is not falling asleep—
you don't get there by pretending.

Think of the moment
you realize you'll miss
someone when she leaves.
Imagine stacking packages
onto the conveyor belt
at the store when you tap
your pocket and feel
the memory of your
wallet waiting on the counter.
Do you refill your cart
and shuffle retrograde
through the aisles,
watching your feet,
putting everything back?
Do you look up at
the cashier and just ask?
I am still learning
what to do with you.
I am still laying down the track.
I am gripping
the edge with my toes
                     while leaning over—
Em Glass Mar 11
Seven miles it took
until I wasn’t thinking about you
for a moment, until I shook
with something other than tears
and stared with something other
than apathy.
Love and hate, respectively.
They cycle as they spin, like
the light and the shadow through
the spokes of my tires.
My feet are getting smaller,
or the pedals bigger–either way,
they don't fit.

I miss you, but I don’t
wish you were here.
I can only breathe
in the shadows of trees,
but I know how you idolize the sea.
What can I say?
I run for my heart,
it hurts my knees.

I know you like your water in
ebbs and flows,
ebbs and flows,
sea lions basking in the rhythm
of the shallows.
But what about the gorges?
The rivers, the rush
that always moves forward,
hawks soaring with their eyes
on the prize, and the prize
is dappled in light
through the leaves,
and the leaves crunch
like words that have become orders,
and the orders soften as the snow falls,
and the snow melts as the birds call,
and the birds sing as the seasons complete the ring
I had in my shopping cart for months but never
ordered?

What about that?

Seven miles in, none of it
has gone away.
All the ice has melted
into the lake and there are still no waves
because the wind is blowing, flowing,
spilling away from the shore.
A gale to bring water to the eyes,
to sweep gulls of course
but with the waves
heading away from the shore
the surface looks smooth.
Imagine that.
I’m getting over you.
Mar 9 · 617
research
Em Glass Mar 9
In my dreams there are smoke
detectors and crashes and lies.
There is a kiss in an atrium right
before it catches fire. There is placate,
stay straight, evacuate.
Neodymium nitrate always smells
a certain way and always looks
a certain blue. Why does an alarm
go off after I dream I've kissed you,
but never if you kiss me?
What doesn't my brain want me to see?
As Orion slinks into view
I stand mixing solvents at the centrifuge.
There is always a healthy dose
of things I don't know. Always something
for Orion to pin with her next arrow.
If I am not here, asking questions of the world,
demanding answers from what I put
into test tubes,
the next thing could be you.
grad school, am i right
Jan 29 · 93
de-ice
Em Glass Jan 29
None of this over, no, not
start, not twiddle your thumbs
lined up for take off.
We only want the beginning
of the middle. To wake up
on a Saturday morning
instead of Sunday or whatever
the other options--maybe

she sees you back, wouldn't that
be nicer than standing
dripping de-icing fluid
on the tarmac,
Nov 2018 · 141
moonwalk
Em Glass Nov 2018
What does distance really do? I don't feel
like I need you now that I've been balanced
with only my own arms raised
at my sides, my questions asked, my
physics written out in chalk, my palms
wiped on my jeans. I can do without
Rube Goldberg machines.

Was I supposed to miss you more? What
is distance even for? And be honest,
are you really shocked that I would doubt
what I want? On every Apollo mission,
two men walked on the moon
and the third one waited in orbit.
Oct 2018 · 75
nametags
Em Glass Oct 2018
I'm thinking of events that require name tags.
The first day of camp. College visits, and orientations.
Conferences. Mock United Nations.
I'm thinking of hearing parties through glass
and turning the fan on for the noise.
I'm thinking of trying to think about boys.
I'm thinking of driving from Illinois
to Indiana to Ohio and watching the terrain
stay the same. I'm thinking the check
engine light is on. And I should get a new
lock for the back door. And fill out a W-4.
I'm thinking of how intense a crush
would feel to a binary star.
I'm thinking of the oceans people are.
I'm thinking, what is it with poets
and the sky?
Why do people hide? How many strokes
can I take without a breath?
What other kinds of sentences are there?
Are we there yet?
Sep 2018 · 143
yellow-jackets
Em Glass Sep 2018
I can't forgive you
for teaching me self defense
is always to ****
Sep 2018 · 842
I walk the wall
Em Glass Sep 2018
The skin on my fingertips is cracking.
I washed all the dishes by hand.
I dried them and stacked them
and put them away.
I walk on the wall between honest and kind.
I wait for the film to unwind,
or become exposed.
The darkroom is where I first
taught my heart to close.
To add the sulfate and turn on the bulb
so the picture wouldn't change,
the way turning on the light
doesn't knock over the first domino.
How your arms rise from your sides
when you skip, a bird taking flight.
How you lie on your stomach
to photograph a seagull.
How do you love two people?
When I close one part,
the cracks form somewhere else.
I walk on the wall between honest and kind.
It is seven feet tall.
I throw an arm out to either side for balance
but it reminds me of you,
so I fall to the right.
precarious
Em Glass Aug 2018
The clouds crouch low over
San Francisco, and they are deciding
between blanket and weather.
They do not know whether to be
comfort or a cold matter of fact.
They do not want you to look back and
sea provides the cold, air provides
the hot, the marine inversion
the Atlantic never had.
Have you ever said things confidently
without being sure? Have you ever asked
about her faith and listened to the answer,
say, the number of beads,
without being sure,
but knowing she was? So at least
that makes you sure of something.
Have you ever heard music
in a public place and felt that foggy weight--
what does it take to dance anymore?
What is that extra oomph it takes
to get your arms above your head?
What is the difference
between fog and dead?
The joke is that I don't remember.
Mar 2018 · 134
Staying here
Em Glass Mar 2018
I flip from about the author to the dedications
again, but I'm sure I like
an appropriate balance of looking
back and staying here. I break
Passover when it coincides with your
birthday this year. When the snow
melts to reveal the leaves with crunch
preserved, and they dance in the
storms that make birds cling,
I welcome back the dead
while I breathe the living.
When the weather vane tucks
in its arms to gain momentum I watch
it spin, but I never spin myself until I hear
the rain tell me it is copying the comet--not
falling, but reaching for grounded like
imagination after I close the book.
Feb 2018 · 133
jupiter's storm
Em Glass Feb 2018
Alaska is the largest united state. Jupiter
is the largest planet in our system. Yours
is the brightest eye in the darkroom,
loudest boot-soles in the hallway, a real
sonic boom of a presence. I like
to see you taking up space. Weaving
the lanyard through your fingers as you
swing your keys, chains colliding over
and again bringing you home. I like
to be there when you return. Green
walls, eight paws, books strewn and notes
scrawled--I like the signs that you live
here. I like the volume you occupy. Demand
a kiss when you burn your lip. Unzip
your coat and hang it on the back of your
chair because you live here. I like to see
Jupiter's cyclone hasn't shrunk it and
your storm hasn't stopped you.
Think of space, and then take it.
Feb 2018 · 365
comet halley
Em Glass Feb 2018
there are raindrops that cling and raindrops that fall.
there are comets that call out their dying around
and around--there is halley who's dizzy and knows
which kind of raindrop she'd be if she could reach
the earth--
Feb 2018 · 196
the western wall
Em Glass Feb 2018
a question on a slip
of paper, maybe the back
of a receipt, maybe written
with the pen at the bottom
of your bag that has been
missing its cap for two months
but is not yet dried up
and you fold it in half, maybe
three times, partly to hide
it and partly to smallen,
and you roll it and hold
it between thumb and index
and you look for god in
the rain taking the ink and leaving
the leaf-litter wishes sodden
on the ground. your prayer
was query, not request, but it
too could litterize. then you tuck
your roll into the stones and
turn around anyway,
all forward eyes, and
that is faith.
Jan 2018 · 473
Teething
Em Glass Jan 2018
the baby teeth are a map
and a compass. when they
come out the real guys file in,
erupting the gums, ending
sentences with prepositions
until they learn where to stand.
It's a wisdom trap--the third
molars are learned until
they know they don't belong.
Someday they'll stop trying
altogether. Good riddance.
And in their place, the sutures
sew the site of eruption
like tying the loose ends
of a volcano and hoping
the lava pressure doesn't brew.
I came out when I saw I
could stand next to you. I trip
over uneven stitches.
I am not held together.
Jan 2018 · 246
New city
Em Glass Jan 2018
She was beside this guy,
and beside herself with her
and him. She remembers sitting
on his shoulders while the sun
set over Jerusalem. She
was smiling in such a way
that the sun was backing down
from a challenge neither it nor I
had seen, which is why
I took the picture.

It was beautiful to see. The tilt
of her head for his photographs, the link
of her arm for his steadying walk, the share
of her sounds with him--one
earbud apiece--all the things
she used to do with me

And in the holy city I was blessed
to see her dance
between two kinds of love
so seamlessly
Dec 2017 · 144
things don't just fall
Em Glass Dec 2017
I am looking for someone I know
her name but I don't know what
she calls herself.
I take a microscope to everything
I see thinking she must be pretty
small to have escaped me so
long but she doesn't hide in flakes
of metal or the grains
of wood. All matter is just pieces
that don't look like
they should stay together
but things don't just fall
apart, so. I have to find her.
for Tina
Em Glass Nov 2017
The silicon in sand is learned
by crystal system, organized
into branches and the seed
crystal is cubic imagine
diamonds in the grains
imagine cut
against the grain a glass tree
doesn't know enough
of crystal symmetry to grow
back imagine it opens
a book leaves to pages
to learn only half
how to help the other
half how to dissociate
ions scattered across the earth
crust never enough.
This is how sand is made.
Nov 2017 · 503
Stuck on the puzzle
Em Glass Nov 2017
From the sixth floor on a Sunday
night you can see
the snake of green

lights switch to red, cars
jarred back a hundred
times stopped in tracks.

There is the jolt
when the robin's egg
cracks in my hands

that is the **** motion of waking
up from falling backwards. There
is the second hand, second

law of thermodynamic
arrow of time, the red
leaves want the earth

beneath them and sooner die
than go back up. There is sitting
cross-legged next to a jigsaw

waiting to see
why one can only wait
in one direction.

Of course, you can see
the traffic lights change
on other nights too,

but Sunday is the one I'm thinking of.
Aug 2017 · 174
perseids
Em Glass Aug 2017
With windswept hair and the beginnings
of smiles, faces in focus and the backs
blurred, arms out to the sides like birds
that are already flying, hands in hands
that brighten what is around them
instead of fighting it. Serenading each
other with words that settle into
the crisscrossing of passers by instead
of matching them step for fist. Wouldn’t
that be nice. Instead we sit a little apart
on the rocks, because even when
we are close the telescopes magnify
the distance, and I look up instead
of around, trying to recall the difference
between comets and asteroids and
meteors but only half in it. Those things
could be anything, as long as I get to watch
something else burn as it falls.
Aug 2017 · 222
black boxes
Em Glass Aug 2017
Hubble saw stars between stars and
there is more space all the time. Sometimes
things go in fine and come out far.
But what about us is getting more apart?
What about Einstein seeing the same
signature of space expansion as you?
What about couples who smell different
though they use the same shampoo?  
What about black boxes—does
the butterfly remember its cocoon?
Does a firefly see its own light? What about
dressing babies in clumsy shoes?
Do bare feet mean nothing to you?
Aug 2017 · 169
the god particle
Em Glass Aug 2017
if vacuum decay swallows
this entire disarray, then
we are not the chosen
ones. this boson
eats your faith for
breakfast or any
meal--time does not
have mass.

every 13 years cicadas
come out screaming,
crickets crying, dragonflies
are dying and fireflies
falling into luminescent
dreams, the crepuscular insect
menagerie.

as the sky thunders and lights,
here's to wishing the lightning bugs
a safe night.
out higgs boson particle physics
Jul 2017 · 241
passing exits
Em Glass Jul 2017
At sunrise a little girl calls
Uncle and he comes to
her and past, down the pier
to reel in the blue *****.
Everyone is crossing
the river where it meets the bay
to exchange pleasantries and
to tear off the legs.
So by mid morning: north
up the winding road past
foggy construction zones.
Everyone is crossing
the lake in canoes while she
is catching salamanders,
throwing news in campfires
and tripping over her shoes.
She takes her paddle to the water
and then the sun right above:
time to move.
A couple hundred exits passed,
a couple hundred exits past
noon. A little northwest
this time, a little late
for lab. Everyone is cross-
ing campus like they mean it.
She climbs and counts
and it's actually one hundred sixty-
two steps up the clock tower--
you have to count again--and what
a view. Jumping isn't the way,
you can't go down when you're
on top. She follows the water
norther, wester, you have
to count again, have to see
something new before dark
Jun 2017 · 468
the toll taker
Em Glass Jun 2017
watching things dry
is always the same:
the paint, the tears, the
puddled up fear that sits
on the bench and
then lives to regret it,
the solder that cools, the
hair in the breeze, the
ruffled bird's feathers when
she learns she's not free,
and she. a slight
glistening gone, trick
of the eye, flight
of the bird, end of the cry.
watching tears dry is
like watching paint dry.
the toll taker sighs
on the bridge, takes
your money and holds
it while he waits to give
it to somebody else,
just counting coins and
watching the water
hit the sky.
May 2017 · 414
cold, dead eyes
Em Glass May 2017
you're taking your
glasses off and living
in the blur.
you're punching the ice
of them, breaking
the rearview
while you miss your connecting
flight. why was seven afraid
of nine?
May 2017 · 307
mass weight light
Em Glass May 2017
big is strong and
color is a joy--

human growth hormone
till the plates ache,

there are no blue
fish past the twilight zone

because of ocean
optics and wavelength
eating economics

it turns out luck
is like gold--
196.97 grams per mole
May 2017 · 177
mass
Em Glass May 2017
luck is like gold.
196.967 grams per mole.
Apr 2017 · 323
A Mantra
Em Glass Apr 2017
a mantra: I can do
things that hurt, I can
do things that hurt,
three miles in, feet
in the dirt, trying
breathe in, cold numb
swim, trying goodbye,
hello, subvert,
feet in the river,
feet in the dirt,
I can do things
that hurt,
I can do things that hurt.
Mar 2017 · 307
Learning at night
Em Glass Mar 2017
I know the quietest way
to crack an egg.
The softest way to close
a door. How to pour
the water into a tilted
glass so it doesn't splash
back. A bird chirps at
just under sixty decibels.
A light bulb sings at
fifteen. I dream
of polymer chains snapping
clean, recyclables humming
to each other at night
while they biodegrade
at a rate negligible
to the human timescale.
Twenty decibels: the chiral
calcite spiral of the snail
when it falls to the sand,
when it dies,
when a girl apologizes
for asking a question.
Jan 2017 · 277
when power changes hands
Em Glass Jan 2017
from the sixth floor, see
the traffic lights change
in time with each
other up and down the
street snake eyes snake
eyes snake
   eyes snake eyes
       snake eyes
green green
green  green
red  red
as they always
did but not just
as they used to
red, red, and it bruises white and blue
Dec 2016 · 379
Sialia sialis
Em Glass Dec 2016
Did you know that an eastern
bluebird is a type of thrush?
It reminds me of her eyes, but
I've tried not to tell you.
And did you know a bluebird
has a red chest, like a robin?
Bright red, like the shoes
she wears even when it rains
and the water soaks through.
Did you know that a robin
is also in the thrush
family?

I can hear her steely-eyed
hope--in the bluebird's trill.
Did you know that chemotherapy
can be administered by pill?
Nov 2016 · 240
I'm fine with that
Em Glass Nov 2016
I hear you tell
me I’m the trash
your college roommate
forgot to take
out on garbage day.

        Now this will sit
        here for another week,
        in our kitchen,
        where we eat our food.

are you mad?

        It’s fine.

        It’s settled.
        I have resigned
        myself to you.
Nov 2016 · 282
Wealth (Donald)
Em Glass Nov 2016
In eighth period no students rest
their heads on their desks today.
They are afraid that the moment
they look away, they will turn back
to find they’re not people anymore.

As for us, we had a voice at least.
We had a dream of being
the teachers with the same last name,
the English teacher with the periodic
table on the wall, and her wife
who teaches monomers
like they were grass’s leaves.
Is that a complexity you can understand?

You can repeal our hope
of exchanging rings—
our feathered thing—
but we will still converge
on the ninth graders of your nation
to be sure your face has not tinted
them with your fear. There will be
no redshift here, only a drift
of progress. There we’ll be,
stationed in the inspiration
of youth to undo
your unfathomable bigotry.

Those who can’t, teach.
Nov 2016 · 460
improvised explosive device
Em Glass Nov 2016
As a mother pulls
her little
girl’s arms into a dress,
the Gunnery Sergeant pulls
his dog into war.

The difference is the dog
is permitted dirt under
her nails, is allowed to
gallop ahead, to tuck tail

at an unfamiliar scent, and
feel the scales lurch with
every foot until she swings
her head around, sees the up
in flames ringing soundless

red of a step taken but
not had. The weight
of a limb lighter, fur lit
to sizzling with the pride
of protecting you,

Sergeant. The dog is given
rest with her nose on her paw
and honor in limping
forward to collect
something else that marks
her neck as someone else’s.

Whatever Maria Dickin had
in mind, her medal pulls
at the throat and
it’s not even edible.
for Lucca
Nov 2016 · 408
Iftar of the Ninth Night
Em Glass Nov 2016
In a row, three
generations of prayer. Your
forehead greets the floor

the way chipmunks touch
noses, but Nanu gets a chair.

Imagine how scared the stars
must have been the first
night they couldn’t see her.

Silk whispers messages
from the rug to your hands,
from Nanu’s feet and mother’s head

to your hands, and the crickets call
to you to say—

we know Nanu has made her
vows and we sing
and we sing with you.

They understand about the chair,
do not want to see
her flicker and fall

is coming with its fallen leaves
so you and two mothers
sway. There is mango
and honeydew on three plates and

dates to break the fast
shadow crossing the moon,
the tides forecast.
Sep 2016 · 698
the sundancer
Em Glass Sep 2016
The sundancer is dodging space junk on the moon.
She is daughter of the sun, reason the moon shines.
The view is breathtaking, and so is the vacuum.

Below spin smells of seaweed, wildflower perfume,
but here satellites crush to dust, just alkaline.
The sundancer is dodging space junk on the moon.

There's no air to breathe up here, only fumes;
she sees moons fall into their planets all the time.
The view is breathtaking, and so is the vacuum.

Sundancer somnambulist hears ghosts in her bedroom.
She pulls the tides to her chin, tucked in, and hides.
The sundancer is dodging space junk on the moon.

She dances in dark but keeps a toothbrush in my bathroom.
She is trying to survive.
The view is breathtaking, and so if the vacuum.

She whistles at birds, content in her own volume.
Constellation clustered face, her freckled stars align.
The sundancer is dodging space junk on the moon.
The view is breathtaking, and so are you.
Sep 2016 · 297
prayer
Em Glass Sep 2016
In a row, three generations
of prayer. When foreheads
meet the floor, Nanu
gets a chair.

Crickets shout through open
windows to break the silence
and silk whispers between
knees and rug to break the bows.

Nanu is too old to bend
to pray; you pull her up
a chair these days. There

are Stars scared of the night
they’ll see you flicker.

You and two mothers
sway, there is mango
and honeydew on three plates
and dates to break the fast

shadow crossing the moon,
the tides forecast.
Sep 2016 · 246
reserved
Em Glass Sep 2016
The sun is setting in slant
rhymes and readings, outlining
the pride poets who stand in
front of the window in gold

thread. Those who listen
eat and laugh at their RESERVED
tables until the end of the catered
event, when the flag is draped

over the piano to soak up
a patch of dust and the
sun reaches to steady itself
on the horizon and the sky

purples— sometimes indifference
leaves a bruise.

Rainbow stickers and flags fade
to dusk hues as they
are folded into a Whole
Foods canvas

bag, minimizing space taken,
and nametags are peeled
off black shirts and blue jeans,
the lint sticking to the backs

of the names in the trash. The
sun ducks behind a mountain.
Colored stripes, prism rainbows
masked. Sweeping the floor. No
one is outlined anymore.
Aug 2016 · 859
daughter of Apollo
Em Glass Aug 2016
the daughter of Apollo
whistles back at birds
reminding them to stay close,
she knows that Icarus
was a dense
bloke so it goes, they circle
in the overexposed
sky and come back just
shy of the shine, and the cicadas
always know when it's time.
then she says, "come along,"
and they all know to go,
following the whistle
of the daughter of Apollo.
conducts the song of the universe
Aug 2016 · 458
sun's mirror
Em Glass Aug 2016
standing on the moon-
the view is breathtaking, and
so is the vacuum.
Jun 2016 · 445
rainbow road
Em Glass Jun 2016
sitting cross-legged
on the floor
bare right foot over
left knee, tilting
the controls like
that will give you
more control as a
kart hurtles down
rainbow road—
ever the hardest track,
but the one to which
every child comes back
time and again—and
to think some of us
will live there, will love
in prisms of light with
no railings, sit
among the stars and fold
paper cranes when
people ask us to explain
our pride
as if they have never
heard of love.

when you fall off the edge
everything goes dark
but in this life the ghosts
don't float you above
it all to get your
bearings back; somehow
you have to do it without
the benefit of afar; the stars
don't spin around your
head while you count
your scars; in
this life the ghosts
are dead.

I turned off the TV,
I watched a bird cross
the street, scurrying
on its little feet
and hopping onto the curb.
It did not use its wings
once. It does not need
to see things
from far away
like I do.
once we realize that we are not small, this is our world and we can act to change it.
if you live in a state whose senator voted "no" to background checks,  contact your local representatives expressing your concern about civilian ownership of military-grade weapons. make our voice loud.
Jun 2016 · 292
forecast
Em Glass Jun 2016
In a row, three generations
of prayer; when foreheads
meet the floor, Nanu
gets a chair.

Imagine how scared
the stars must have been
the first night they
couldn't see you.
Imagine the gasp, the
wind's fist unable to grasp
the cosmic impermanence
of what it made
while you and two mothers
sway, there is mango
and honeydew on three plates
and dates to break the fast
the shadow crossing
the moon so slow,
the tides forecast.
May 2016 · 411
morning walking
Em Glass May 2016
Away from the city I see Alcyone
and all the bright things I didn't know
existed,
and girl have I missed it.
At the pediatrician's office my mother
told me there was nothing
the doctor could do about my
anxious palms, no salve to cover
it, just keep rubbing them on my jeans
and raise my hand in class
with blue dye on the sides where
other kids have graphite but
you say you like the way my hands shine.
Our fingers, intertwined.

This place, its color saturates
when you return to it.
A cosmic ghost playing
a cosmic joke, waking up,
propping himself lazily on an elbow
in bed, casually sliding up
the brightness of the universe
like he does it every day, like he
was born to it, when really
we were.
May 2016 · 264
comfortable shoes
Em Glass May 2016
A duck flutters onto the path
and we are at an impasse;
we wait in the dark until the
sun comes back,
but the thing doesn't move.
I can see in your
stubborn shoes, laces never loose,
the unwillingness to let
this creature be afraid of you.

On the way back there are
other ducks that don't notice us,
and that is enough.
May 2016 · 345
standing at the edge
Em Glass May 2016
Standing at the edge of your eyes
my toes curl over the rim.
They push the ground away
I am just cold enough to breathe. I am
just helpless enough to let the water
support me and float free.

I am afraid the way I was
afraid of the mossy dark reservoir
behind the second dam.
Afraid the way I was
when I watched kids haul
their bodies onto the rocks
with their knees still shaking,
their teeth still protesting against
each other.
I am afraid the way I was
when I dipped my toes in the water
long enough to hear them scream,
afraid of the bottomless, afraid it wasn’t
bottomless enough, couldn't see.

Just afraid enough to jump.
Just cold enough to breathe.
"standing on the parted shores of history, we still believe what we were taught before ever we stood at Sinai's foot,"
May 2016 · 273
second dam to the right
Em Glass May 2016
dodging shards of terra cotta
on the ground and
shards of croaksong in the
air we crouch at the bank, half
way there, and the frogs vault
over the tops of our sneakers.
we are
scaring chipmunks and hiding
from snakes, balancing
on the pipeline with our arms raised
out like birds about to take flight.
at the reservoir people are
jumping from on high, grabbing
at stars on the way down.
when they land the cold
pries open their fists
and they surface shaking and
full of nothingness.
someone tosses an empty
can of keystone into the water,
stumble-swims away from it.
it spills over one dam and
glides toward the next,
a girl flinches from a rock
like a moth from a swat
and pulls the can to the crags, they
both rest there breathing heavy.
they both dry off.
she pulls on her clothes and
pulls herself home
in a flurry of forgot.
as more kids jump,
more stars fall from their hands
until the can is full
of a hope too heavy
to drag home.
May 2016 · 211
angel of tears
Em Glass May 2016
holding everybody in arms
of a bowl to catch
what we cry.
Turning the saltwater into oceans,
mirrors still enough that we
can see, watch ourselves try.
And for those who like waves she
pulls at the tides,
rough hands smoothing the sand,
and when she thinks she can't
get it right she consults the moon,
watching and learning till she's
ready to teach.
And for those of us who don't
like the beach,
she holds her hands out to us
with palms up, lifting the salt
away and the water up,
sending our tears
purified
to the sky to rain down on us,
fresh and quiet
every one.
she's saving us all, one by one
Apr 2016 · 124
with eyes
Em Glass Apr 2016
You coil in the doorway
and look at me
with eyes
a snake just sits
and looks at me
until I am afraid of it.
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