Downward Mass

Death was a brutal fiction
burning all day in the high grasses,
and its smoke circled our bodies
though even the birds knew
it was a mean illusion,
a cartography of dust.
But still we counted the fruit
that touched the flesh
and turned into nothing,
the penitents transformed
into mad-eyed thieves,
the lovers that were really swans
lost on the wind’s discursions.
When we say death we really mean
grief for our lack of language,
our failure to name the sudden disappearance,
the way the mystery turns back
into itself, almost traceable,
like sinking stones.

Seth Jani lives in Seattle, WA, and is the founder of Seven CirclePress. Their work has appeared in American Poetry Journal, Chiron Review, The Comstock Review, Rust + Moth and Pretty Owl Poetry, among others. Their full-length collection, Night Fable, was published by FutureCycle Press in 2018. Visit them at

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