The Poem You Didn’t Write

            after Olena Kalytiak Davis


is not presumptuous enough
to tell you what you did or didn’t do

the poem you didn’t write is
crushed in salt glittered across the sidewalk

like glass or dreams or prisms
or crystals or currency

the poem you didn’t write is a negation
of did then didn’t

a negotiation of who gets which
piece of time

the poem you didn’t write is me
trying to arrange
curls of smoke
into again

the moment after a moment behind chicken wire

a dimly lit

you said

this is the kind of song
you can live inside forever

a feeling of needing the endless

a floral pattern to stitch to your sleeve
a kind of bouquet
to be always giving flowers
to strangers

the poem you didn’t write said

we’ll grow a house
along the landscape
suddenly and always there

as a thought snapping
into existence

the poem you didn’t write
is the season peaked and
roiled in ecstatic up

the poem you didn’t write
landmarks the body filled with sun

the poem you didn’t write
is the swim against
open ocean
a dusk that would be lovely
if only for a spit of land
to pin it above
and fall asleep beneath—


the poem I wrote

is a white porcelain teapot
we stole from your roommate
when we moved in together

it is two films we bought with fake money

it is the endless sentence
tied together with pieces of breath

this or that
never knowing
until the punctuation—

the poem slips back into ribbons of light

Robert Balun received his MFA from The City College of New York, where he was a recipient of the Jerome Lowell DeJur Prize in Creative Writing and the Teacher-Writer Award. His debut chapbook, Self (Ceremony), is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. His poems have appeared in Bodega, Similar Peaks, smoking glue gun, Heavy Feather Review, Word Riot, and others. He teaches creative writing and composition at The City College of New York.

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