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Oct 2011

I was on 7th Street;
a troop of boys was riding ahead of me, their backs

blazing in light,
small lit men full of air,

their t-shirts billowing behind them
like their swelling lungs,

as though they would restrain
or guide themโ€”
it is the same thing.

At 4 in the afternoon
the sun could collide at just the angle

with the faรงade of the derelict building beside us,
half a blown-out wing โ€”just

A blind man in sunlight.

Its bewildering joy in that moment,
as it stood in sun, the carved interior of its lungs

gasping in air
was enough to split the heart.


He came back from his brief sojourn
at the institution

slightly derelict, like a rock tossed and left in the sun.
I could see from here

his crystalline lungs expanding
beautiful and raw in the breaking.

He muttered apologies and confessions
too desolate to fully sound them.

Unbelievably whole in body,
his remaining architecure might have stood as

only a testament to past,
a remnant.

You never think youโ€™re going to witness
the ruin of another human being.

Sunlight and chords fractured
in the crystal prism of his lungs

remind you that he was human.


On my desk, a small piece of sea glass
occupies a corner with the shells

that I stole from a beach in Florida,
one of those summers I trolled sand for a single

jewelled semicircle, edges
raised and grainy with the lapping salt:

The carelessly halved base
of something gathered in glassy waves

slowly disintegrating
among my books and shells.

At times, boys up the street ride past
on their bicycles, or pause to carry

small burdens to each other,
their dialects lost on the June air

as I watch from up the street.
They are remnants of me

looking for shells or grasping listlessly
at walls dissolving

in air and sunlight. I try to gather some
of the crystalline fragments in my hands.

In the afternoon,
salt drifting across the table,

I glean a few discordant shards,
charged with surreptitious and bewildering light.
Peter Taylor McConnell
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