Shamala Gallagher

Evening, Drug, No Drug

No to the elixir's sting & the star of not

here, I've been bored of myself for years


& once night goes pale it stays wakeful

— & once

that star

made good


— it rested

in the quick

look

of the mouth

& left gleeful stain


— but once

you are old
you are old




& long ago I was close

to one

pit
night — you

can suck at a pit
a long time — be
an intricate

hole in the sand



& who cares
what lasts,



it is not
this

body,



& who gets
to stay long

on the night's

burning ridge



*



but do not say squander, brother
— do not say squander, do not
make the first lost
stay lost — do not
say squander, do not
say squander again

Sung in the Street Dark

nervous moon in cupped hands

let the night lead itself where it might want to stay

it is asking too much

a body can only hold itself still for a duration of so many eyes



night is half here always

and who leaves with the salt-altered seconds

sunlight who stumbles on a trampled hem

forget the fire I named afternoon



who will be so serious

as if we live always in the first alert

as if hands were not made of dusk undoing
itself among other things



day, if first blue were not a color
refrigerator groan in the bluedark

we meet late flick of late


so much for what we thought of
ourselves. so far we are less than we wanted



I wanted to be someone who would not need
to reach in her bag for a star of pleasure

you will have to renounce pining

but you can do what you want with your mornings

let day then be crafted from its own broken tools


stay, little flick of straw half–anywhere



let the stage go peopled with dust


sleep took itself to mean what it wanted

a rasp of February and its salts named daytime


why wait in the on flick and off named a world


one day the fruit in the fridge is covered with mold

the window harboring keys

where do I put my face to the inside
of thinking


if I want that anymore


if a day is something to peel

all its weight from itself as it tangles in later




sleep does not settle

for days: I don't want to talk anymore



we are still here even if late

sometimes the lateness

does not settle for days: I don't want to talk anymore,

freak day


I thought I had kept for us a core of peace


but the house smells of ache and lily,
silly wanter


run in the lace of your tights

run forward huffing through the chilly late morning

come where the body

is a block and broken

white is a day to gnaw on

let air go to air if it's tossed


let me stay naked in the house
which is the site of faltering.


let me search under the desk
a little longer for the rare charter.


who came trundling,
whoever

are we allowed to make love in the room of maps


should the day stay as wild as it once was

should the day stay as wild as the first time

open the door naked to a crack of cold



the month of harsh melting
is free and what then



years are more slippery

than we asked for.

voices don't lose their soaked–in–anything


I handed my youth as a lily
away to who–asked


smeared in vermillion pollen


might hours say

who started with hours.


streets were once slung into

mouths of street–cats


murmuring won't keep itself

much longer without your

sanction.



days topple.


I want to sit along the roadside

by myself. let anyone balk



and let anyone
crumple, snifter of daytimes


how I said half a glass to hold up to nothing


in this age everything's wayward


and thought is a loud steamboat


I have nothing to say to steeples

nothing to say to small bowls


once–asked–turn–away


listener is the name of no one
out in what suburb


when moon is wracked with itself

don't speak in that year if you don't want to


now that day is only half what I'll bear


I'll ask you all then which torment

was enough. which bottle of anything

would you drink without trusting


I want to know what you think


as if we haven't marked enough
on the scratch boards they handed out


what to make of day


then what then what

that hand can be its own scolding

to have scrabbled the world–surface cultivating
love. but now day has run down its art


and what do you say after green grows
worthless and where do you go



* * *


what is a room

if no one can confirm the start of answers



and does it have walls


and is a wall a safeguard for something
else? air pledges its jitters to nothing


and no one needs to be there in the room


but what leaves us was careless
to start:




Shamala Gallagher is the author of a chapbook, I Learned the Language of Barbs and Sparks No One Spoke (dancing girl press, 2015). Her poems and essays have appeared in Black Warrior Review, The Missouri Review, VOLT, Verse Daily, The Offing, and elsewhere. She is a Kundiman fellow and a graduate of the Michener Center for Writers, and she lives in Athens, GA, where she is pursuing a PhD in English and Creative Writing at the University of Georgia.