Issue > Poetry
Ed Pavlic

Ed Pavlic

Ed Pavlic's next book is Visiting Hours at the Color Line (National Poetry Series, Milkweed Editions, 2013). His most recent works are But Here Are Small Clear Refractions (Chinua Achebe Center, 2009) and Winners Have Yet to be Announced: A Song for Donny Hathaway (University of Georgia Press, 2008) and Labors Lost Left Unfinished (University Press of New England, 2006). He is professor of English and creative writing at the University of Georgia in Athens.

Alibis For The Heavy Part Of Rain That Stays In The Sky

—for Mzee
I've got no every   when   tongue
or other    where   design.
  I could lie and say you were always on.

     Bench bluebent toward a hollow sky.
One right next to mine.
  Face pull weather thru reinforced glass.

     Wouldn't say why.

  Born like that sunspots run

     your tongue; now
he's a slipslice of eyenight to pass.

     Could say, last life, you were always right,
there, strummed lost names
  on your borrowed guitar. Might say he was heavy

     as thread-thin air;

  I could say you still are.

     Or claim barefoot. Shoes full of shells
peeled off pistachio stones.
  His shadow bowed bright, road wound

     down in dust-splashed light—  

  your Uncle Will kissed a melon on its skin

     like his sister's cheek,
called it a letter from home.  

     Why not? You're all right.          Right?

  How about ran-over, worn leather,

     floptongue suede on the frozen
concrete? Brass rivets, hand-hammered.

     Truth about this?

  Some spit-shine defeat.

     Skip the feather, the day we got old, silk
band on your hat. I'll say safety
  blade thin call him Three Month's Rent.

     You know where all that's at.

  Call it what you want, too, stick around

     or get back. Way I see it
it's up to you, count on me. That'll be that.

     And you'll know it sure as Gimme got shot
and too legit to teach to sit.

     Or not.
And, either way, sure as anything
  you forgot, it's up my back,

     round my neck no need to check,

  the image has been spit.

     I'll say you'll know him when you don't,
see him? I don't have to say shh— never mind

     What's the matter your mothers never
taught you all to blink?
  Call yourselves, what? Pass him in an empty street.

     He's got my some of my stompedallon

  my swallowedandgone; hidden off

     in the tall weeds of the slow need case the lights come on


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