Poetry: Christopher Citro


If You Must Know

The reason I carry this shovel is you just never know. Like at the bank—I’m waiting in line twenty minutes to learn that I’m in the wrong line. The teller told me this then looked me in both eyes while her lips played dead at me. I was supposed to be in a little alcove off to the left where the windows let in the light off the snow, making the National Geographics glow like gold-framed windows to wonderful. I had no idea. I was afraid to look in case a version of me was sitting there already, the clever me with leather shoes and nice slacks, who knew all along that’s where I belonged. Thank goodness for this shovel I’d have thoughtfully brought with me and which I’d slam into the carpet there and then, digging up heaps of floorboards, concrete, spitting electric vines, gravel, pale orange soil, as the bank and that teller’s lips parachuted into the air above me and I dropped into a different, if darker, universe where things make some kind of sense.

Only Better (Black Moths)

Each time Jimmy disappears into his cave he comes out later with an even more beautiful one. The last, it was six inches across, deep blue, almost black, and when you got close, a complete cosmos of pinpricks of light opened up across the velvet. I thought I saw a shooting star; it crossed from one wing to the other silently, leaving a trail of glitter. I wanted to make a wish, and I trusted Jimmy enough to do it right there in front of him. I closed my eyes and said to myself in the hollow of my skull, “I wish exactly what is happening were happening right this moment.” Before I opened my eyes, I leaned forward and kissed the body between the glittering wings. When I opened and stood back, Jimmy looked into my right eye and then into my left. Then after a moment’s stillness, he disappeared back inside his cave. Two weeks later, it all happened again.

Thomas at Home in the City

Looking out over the city, he counted the passing cars. When he got to ten he stopped. He counted lampposts. When he got to ten he stopped. He was about to start counting birds in the park across the street when the telephone rang. Thomas turned and walked back into the apartment. As the curtains fluttered closed behind him, nine snow white pigeons landed exactly where he’d been standing on the balcony. The tenth pigeon was calling him on the phone.

All rights reserved to Christopher Citro.

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