Wrong River

               Where there is salt there is

water, where there is salt there are scattered

the echoes of stars.

 

Star fields, sliding along

the walls of the mind 

 

long 

 

after the projectionist

is hanged                       still I see him swinging in my empty mind

 

casting loops of shadow, becoming

clockwork.

 

Absorbed into the big 

big big 

machine keeps time.

 

 

               The most terrible concept of all, God agreed.  The awful project.  And yet I said it, so it will be so.  Let there be time, let it be kept, may its territory be so bound.  

 

               Meanwhile, how relentlessly my friends have died!  Three in one winter, now again another, come the summer, still another, gone

 

oh well fell down a 

 

 

                Here I'm dancing in a club again

broken glass in Berlin

cigarette tumbling down my shirt 

                                                                a shooting star, I vomit, joyous

 

someone drags me out of bed by the foot

 

Dublin, 2007                  it's a case of mistaken identity        sorry, sweetheart 

thought you were someone else

so did I 

 

                         drank too much and fell                          in the incorrect river

                the one whose currents

                I don't know

 

that was a case of mistaken identity                               sure

 

                but now let us think of those rivers, right rivers

                whose black-green nightly depths 

                tumulted me 

 

 

                sober, sober, set me right, set me     cold and wide awake

                tumbling over under water treefall to the 

                railroad tracks

 

where Jon was waiting, drunk

on Southern Comfort, with the knife               to make us brothers

 

though I'm just a stupid girl, I 

can be a brother to the one

whose death                                                          too stupid to foretell, I was just 

 

dancing by a river

clogged with ghosts before its oily water 

 

caught on fire

before I saw the heron with its wings of flame

 

                hell forever 

                reinvents itself 

stop the reel

                for a suicide break.

 

Or maybe we are not 

yet death, oh Jonathon, maybe            I thought           this is as bad as it gets 

 

                wrong river, wrong city          wrong needle wrong knife 

 

 

but now I know there is no 'as it gets' 

oh it gets 

bad bad bad     it sure gets

 

bad                                                            I'm sorry, I do, I do                 I do believe in suicide 

 

                in irrevocable invitations

 

come, let's be

brothers

 

                our humiliation enjoyed pre-emptively, then gotten over, yes?  The projectionist agrees, his feet

                enact agreement 

 

oh why why a river when I wanted the sea

give me salt that shrivels me to the size I really am

in homage to the God who understands me                              who decreed there is no bottom, it just keeps

going down 

down down 

 

(and it is said, and it is good) 

 

like the quarry where the boy who drowned his dog was drowned by other boys, who also drowned,

and the townies and the schoolkids fistfight broken bottle broken glass red busted taillight cadillac, red

rose red wine big dance bare ass yes yes I saw that movie too where is the beautiful girl losing her grip

on the wheel

 

(stop the reel)

 

who's the quarry now, yeah

 

                answer the question, who 

 

now

 

                                                           Shall we gather at the 

                                                           beautiful that beautiful that 

 

river

 

                                                           where the heron burned to black tangles of wire

                                                           where my drunken guts have myriad myriad

                                                           spewed

 

Yes, gather, ye 

saints

 

we are to be ignited with the spirit        baptized              lest we be too old                     to suicide.  

 

                                                           As a child I came up 

                                                           from the river's silty heart thrust

                                                           into daylight                  crowning

                                                           in a cloud of biting flies

 

                                                           spitting and choking, wishing

                                                           I came from the sea 

 

give me that cold clear Aeagean               or, come on

give me something 

 

                                       so I can say                            those hulking monsters in the water are just 

                                                                                      islands, wait for the sunrise, then you'll 

                                                                                      understand 

Naomi Rhema Edwards graduated from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a BFA in Writing, and earned her MFA at the University of Pittsburgh. She lives in Pittsburgh.

©2018 HighShelfPress. 

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram