by Tim Blighton
Desert Moon Review
First Place, May 2009
Judged by Duncan Mercredi

for Karen

What can I do? My fingertips have rope burns,
but the sky has been quiet for days. Nightly,
I roam a sea of barstools with nothing more
than shot glasses for ballast, while all doors exit

into a spinning compass of neon stars
and vomit. Sometimes, the difference
between coursing the tradewinds or drifting alone
is an unspoken lie between strangers.

The eye accepts all it can: the glare
of snow, the black of velvet
in a ring case, or the old note
on a steamy mirror. Without light

we would have less to presume. We
might accept our accidents and causality
as reminders that we can’t always
see where we’re going.

The moon is a busker, borrowing as it travels.
I contemplate light refracting in the empty
glass in front of me. The bartender leaves
the bottle; from the counter, it is fluorescent.

You find me in a mouth of sediment, worn
by the sun’s returning tides. Your hair is hemp
woven with lilacs and anchored
to your prayer beads, dangling between

us. I sink, unable to decide. Your hands
open into a butterfly (mariposa you say).
The narrow alleys flood with snow-melt. Your smile,
angular and nomadic, is cast

into the busy streets as you turn. Let me release
your hair and draw it close; let me set sail.

"I roam a sea of barstools with nothing more than shot glasses for ballast, while all doors exit into a compass of neon stars and vomit." The above line by itself says it all. I have been there, I have sat next to this writer in every seedy bar, in every dive and have met all those night time companions that he hints have accompanied him on that great journey into the darkest recesses of humanity. Yet somehow he finds a beauty in this place and I too have found that same peace with these strangers. He just says it better than I could though I have tried. --Duncan Mercredi

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