–Whatever I want I can outwalk.
                                            –William Matthews

Here in the amiable dark
where we live now, alone
or in couples, or with dogs,

or plugged into music
only one at a time can hear
comes this quelling

above the lethal math of plague
and dearth of love, amid
the new ruins

and ransacked history

where the same familiar beast
with a different mask
is always slouching

above the daily count
of final breaths
we console ourselves

by pretending are not ours,
persuade ourselves are other
and elsewhere

here in the amiable dark
where we are walking tonight,
the cadence of sidewalks

rising through the circuitry,
climbing the stacked
and loaded dice of the spine

toward the blood rich fields
of the brain, that drenched bouquet
of electro-chemical flowers

which is no more singular
than the mind is singular,
the way reefs and constellations

are never singular, as pity
is never singular
though each holds a portion

trembling in a cup
it’s a bottomless cup
we carry

where even walking alone
is never really alone,
whether walking toward

or away from,
there’s still walking
for company,

and pity and mind
here in the amiable dark
where we live now


Max Garland’s newest book of poems, Into the Good World Again, will be out March 14. Previous books include The Word We Used for It, winner of the Brittingham Poetry Prize, The Postal Confessions, winner of the Juniper Prize, and Hunger Wide as Heaven. He has received an NEA Poetry Fellowship, Michener Fiction Fellowship, Bush Artist Fellowship, inclusion in Best American Short Stories, and fellowships in poetry and fiction from the Wisconsin Arts Board. Born and raised in Kentucky, where he worked as a rural letter carrier on the route where he was born, he is professor emeritus at UW-Eau Claire, the former Writer-in-Residence for the City of Eau Claire, and the former Poet Laureate of Wisconsin.


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