e r i c k    p i l l e r

Suicide Lanes

And the skin cools as night spills at last across the desert.
Finally now, in the awful and unforeseen moment
Of glass mazes and passive suicidal thoughts,
Of true love and its delicate wanderings—
Finally now, perhaps in the moment of true love,
You hold your hand against her cheek without anger
And without shame or thought or nobility of intent—
You ask whether it is the moon or the desert
That drives these feelings thickening in your throat.
But possibly you have come to an unpredicted country
Of goats and shepherds and faint echoes of death—
In any case, you do not hear them, you criminal—
Possibly, finally, you will give names to these things,
And possibly, finally, in the inscrutable moment,
In the hour of the street lamp and the folding flowers,
Their names will guide your body to her body,
And the skin will warm, as if it were daylight suddenly.


Now all electronic devices demand to be disabled
And stowed and, excuse me, can you lift forty-one pounds?
Forty-one swans drift in circles in a swimming pool.
Forty-one minutes pass before the minute of note.
Forty-one dreams contribute to that single dream.
No, I doubt that I could lift any of these things.
I can, however, lift Napoleon's chessboard,
The chessboard of Bonaparte, that emblem of love—
Yes, I can lift it, but not for very long,
And maybe the pieces would slide clownishly into my face,
And maybe I would expect some explanation.


The lyric asks for only ten percent of your income.
The old lovers ask for only another ounce of blood.
You must be hungover. No reason to listen—
In another world, in Europe, every beggar has a gun
And so begs for nothing, but rather demands.
I do sound quite British. What say you? Do I not?
But I prefer the hokey sexuality of the American landscape
And above all Mt. McKinley, with its muttering wind.
Like the mountain, you may view the lyric from one of two angles;
At its closest point it lies nearly thirty-three miles
From the road, and it may kill you if you lack experience.
Three angles, then. I forgot about the third.



The skin warms, finally, at the moment of true love. The only music heard comes from deep within

The colorful hut, with its salmon-orange door.  It opens and closes as silence passes, letting it through.

You  may  ask about the  colorful hut,  but  the  fishermen  will not stoop to acknowledge you. The mysteries of love

Consist of questions that we must learn again and again to pose. Pose them on a window sill in the colorful hut. A rainbow grows from a river flower.

This place is very beautiful and vibrant, especially as seen from the window in the colorful hut where you have posed

Your question about the mysteries of love.  Mushrooms grow from the rainbow, from end to end,

Like a fractal but much prettier and more interesting. Do you think that now you know how to ask? Listen, here comes silence again.



ERICK PILLER received an MFA in poetry from Warren Wilson College in 2012. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in TriQuarterly, DIAGRAM, H_NGM_N, and elsewhere. He lives in Willimantic, Connecticut.

I S S N     1 5 5 9 - 6 5 6 7