m a t t h e w    m a h a n e y

from Solicitude

 
So many late nights      a pressure 
on the inside of your cheek      	


             a cave fish         probing blindly


your tongue      
     somehow unexhausted       


                                after whole minutes 	
spent       cradling small pyramids of meat
 

                          : :


After learning of crows       
the way they circle & covet

                          newborn lambs       how they go
             for the eyes

feast on their eyes each bleak spring 
you wonder        
                          no longer 

      why a swarm’s true calling is murder

                          : :

In the dream you saw        an infant being pulled
blue-gray & silent from 

                                        its mother

you spend the rest of the day unable to 
             focus
on anything but       the memory 
                                                    of your father
                                                    on his back 

in a hospital
room choked with flowers and family       

lungs forcing thin streams of air 
              through a crowd       of tumors

                          : :

The morning comes so cold 
it breaks        
                          open with a bird       
                          lying dead on the welcome mat        

an ambulance’s insistent bleat 
streaming 
                                   through the damp air

                          : :

The exhibit 
	           is a continuous loop          forty-seven 

seconds of black and white footage           00-13: Trees, winterbare and endless

                          snow spread thick 
                  over the bottom half of the screen

                          14-18: A deer steps into the camera’s field of vision 
						                                              from the right

19: Half-obscured by an oak, it stops to sniff the air


                                        20: A gun clears its throat and the deer 
             lays down


21-47: It stretches and curls
                                                    straightens and bends
                                                    its thin legs 	over and

                          over, makes a hollow 

             in the snow, a new place
             to sleep.
 

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MATTHEW MAHANEY was born in one place, grew up in another, and has since lived in several more. He currently lives in Tuscaloosa, where he is an MFA candidate at the University of Alabama. Other work appears or is forthcoming in Caketrain, GlitterPony, Indiana Review, Jellyfish, PANK, and Redivider.


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