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Three by Noah Warren



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Winter birds in the black trees, do you hear me.
The Divine Comedy took place so long ago.

Sometimes I could cry when I remember
how little Italian I know, how little

of the machinery of God. Like dawn,
what is it,

and the night coming on
so soon after. Screeching choirs,

tree after tree going up in light—
                                                                     I am nothing
before coffee, do you hear me, nothing.






Evening Sea

The stillness pauses.
Above the hill, the air is
a ladder: red to slate.
Beneath the hill, the sea.

The sea is more beautiful
than it was even yesterday,
when it grew still as earth. 
It is impossible to imagine

how it will look tomorrow;
now every gesture is erasure;
it never was; and still it is
felt: a sea. 






Calendar

Probably in another decade I will remember mostly the natural beauty of the cay,
which its nascent touristic development, the reason I was there, had not yet entirely effaced.
Such thought was however unavailable to me then, doubled over
beneath the banana trees at the edge of the island, retching with what,
in the lucid moments between spasms of deep skeletal pain
and the dry contractions of my guts, I was sure was cholera.
There were tiny fish skeletons and loose translucent ribs strewn about the dirty white sand
I was now lying on my side on, panting weakly, letting my head sink down on my arm,
closing my eyes against the stripes of sun that slashed between the blowing fronds.
Episodes of shivering occurred in different places of my body like earthquakes.
Forced to choose between suffering in the thatch-roofed eco-cabin I had rented,
which had no windows, or furniture except for the army cot, and was furthermore
infested by large, pulsating frogs that clung silently to the walls
and crawled to new positions when you turned the single lightbulb out,
and the beach, I had chosen the beach. Hiding my face in the crook of my arm, I could still hear
above the sloshing waves, the faint discordant tinkling
of the goats, or rather their bells, somewhere upwind. I had seen them climb
spindly palm trees, albeit bent ones, with an agility that made me incredulous
even as I witnessed it. They stood in the tops of the palms as if in the centers
of small green explosions, swaying around with the breeze, looking placidly at nothing.




Noah Warren is the author of The Complete Stories (2021) and The Destroyer in the Glass (2016), winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets. Recent poems appear in The Paris Review, Poetry, The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. He is a PhD student in English at UC Berkeley and a former Stegner Fellow at Stanford.