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Justin Runge

Ed. note: These three poems come from a sequence called In the Orchard.


back against ditch bank
she watches a burning

brown     what’s distant
appears to be approaching

     apocalypse     cloudy
     all this casual violence

in the rendering     hair
parted     a brittle wreath

     surroundings no more
than spackle scrape across

fire damage     her sleeve
though as wet as illness

     he keeps the grotesque
sunset     the terrible light

     turned away she joins
my looking     a spectator too

     yes     an audience forms
one large and close aloneness


were there ambitions
for the blank above to bear

sky     is it truth     I look up to
be reduced     most people do

     like a voyager he leaves
to look back at her     smaller

     disembodied     perhaps
a ghost only needs to keep

what will be recognized
     to emit some light

for the witness     fog lifts
and there’s the militia

     spectral     whistling
     distracting the dairy farmers

     the orchard voided     she
is a coin’s relief on clean

paper     sculpture surfacing
from milk     indigenous


she is the interruption
of a signal     neural

     snarl     a child who
doesn’t understand pencil

holds one and makes it
function     rupturing

the beginning body     this
is fable     not journal-

ism     the story given
by habit to any lost thing

     who is missing it     now
home checking pockets

     her head     a bauble
found on the forest floor

then brought by his beak
to be nested     I promise

not to spend too much
time here looking

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