I. We are taught to hallucinate from a young age –
imagine friends or a fat white elephant in the sky,
build mansions, castles in the air –
ideas, so impossible.
“One day,” we say,
playing doctor in the grass of the ditch,
“we’ll own an island, we’ll own all the islands,
not the ones between continents of debt and depression,
no, the ones sailing the infinite blue above our heads;
we’ll grow cotton candy, construct groundscrapers,
use lightning in our table lamps,
travel together using polished chrome jetpacks.”
II. There’s a fine line
between creativity and insanity, between dreams
and the pipes they leak from –
even the heavens have plumbing problems.
“Get under the umbrella,” I say,
watching you dance, words drowned out by the rain,
“don’t blame me if you catch your death,
I’m out of chicken soup and apologies.”
But you are already dissolving
like a cowboy in the sunset, except you don’t ride
toward any known horizon; you just grin,
“It’s just a little water,” and don’t leave so much as a hat.
III. “I still don’t believe in ghosts,” I say,
feeling your laugh before I hear it –
the flash and then the thunder – “Then what are clouds?
Don’t you see their restless shift? Ancestors, childhoods,
reduced to bone and vapor, suspended
foundations, waiting to be built upon.”
Silence returns, and I feel the ectoplasm –
it smells like ozone but feels like the map of your skin.
The aftertaste of loss is a lot like waking up: fragments,
black, alone – the nimbus archipelago crawls
across the broken anatomy of sky
with the tenderness of vinegar.
Nolan Liebert hails from the Black Hills, where he lives with his wife and children. His proximity to the Sanford Underground Research Facility feeds his obsession with dark matter, as his farmboy roots fed his obsession with herbs and alchemy. His literary experiments appear or are forthcoming in An Alphabet of Embers, Liminality, and elsewhere. You can find him editing Pidgeonholes or on Twitter.