Paul Legault

City Afternoon 2



The air defines what it will protect

By doing that, and this dim picture

Deserves such treatment, being of old people young once

Sucked screaming through the geriatric mill.


Sometimes I feel this road has little feet beneath it

That go on despite my reprimanding them

Like an America that’s seeped in

To the overall volume just

To show you that it could.


The depiction involves garlands

And that the future could change

Waiting in the dim light

To progress like a single hair through metal

Diagonally in the reflecting pool.

No Way of Knowing 2



And? The certainty of colors

And their rescue in language?

And the rudimentary devices of the street

Hurried to music? The corners of time

Shifted like cotton tiles out of the dark?

And other strange names for what we called you?

Yes, most likely. But then they were waking up

Meanwhile to decimate the pact-holders.

Everything gets carried off in the end

But not anywhere else, and the dank

Setting matters on the surface of a flood.

When it wasn’t a holiday, we waited

In line for the centennial where every brow

Gets decorated but not every landscape,

Though we’d designed the garment ourselves

To adjust to these new domains. Sweden

Can’t not be about itself, even occasionally.

One page turns and shows an itinerant map.

I can’t speak for the business I’m minding

Until the precise moment shows itself unencumbered,

And there we get nervous, in my life.

The Spanish lessons go undisturbed on the continent,

But something gets in—yes, the body

In a novel, meaning one thing the way a fragment gathers

With its others to do just that. The fact that

We draw flowers is to say that anxiety exists

As a metaphor before it does this morning.

I’ve worked on the influences, precariously,

Shifting from one foot, zeroing in on the edge

Where we add up the binary systems and expect

to find this or that. I need a job while I’m alive

Inducing starved children into a food coma

In the field we turn into a cafeteria

And act parallel to this friendly mirage.

I can do what I want even if that’s just sitting,

Lifting lazily from the nurse’s madness—at best—

And hide myself under the lunch table

That the light gets to somehow. Add it all

Once and that will be where we start

To witness the neighbors stretching their yellow tape

To meet the inaugurated morning and push it back.

Time-wise, I’m more interested in being close to the finale

Such that they tell you, “Here it comes.”

I pulled an apocalyptic prophecy from my pocket

In the passage that is this expanse leading

To a perfume drenched in itself if indecorously so.

At the reception, we met our dance partner

And went from there. Breaking up shouldn’t happen

With a handshake on the bench at sunset,

Preserving our ferality like a silk cross

Pressed between the pages of a magazine. The opacity

Of plant life ruins itself in just a little heat.

For memory’s sake, we’ve gotten close enough

To say that, anyway, in the evenings.


Give us our snapdragons with the children’s

And ward off all else like a doctor who is loved

Bending backwards to retrieve the dial

That’s come off. You can monitor

Almost anything, and so we come to our heroine

Expecting to, until she too turns invisible,

If accidentally so, like the time she did

It in that also did. I miss that time. Our totality

Breaks out into a feeling and shudders in

The lobby of its empty casino.

I need a doctor who can renew

My prescription to drive in the country.

(Waterford spontaneously combusted.)

The meadows became implicated in the mood

Of trial and other smaller bits of emotion

That point to the fact that you have stayed on

Supplying a theory of friendship that favors

Rest in each other’s arms during the giant

Form of twilight that’s begun to peel off. You should

Spend the afternoon reiterating the branch pattern

They told you stopped the light on the floor

From being there to keep everything solid,

Because if it moves it isn’t. One solution

Would be to ban camaraderie and woven things

And listen to the old LP with your other favorites

Becoming fantastic as the savages

Whose money is dead. There is a stimmüng.

A chair lengthens in its days to be just that.

Sand Pail 2




leads down the red road jutting

out from its environmentally viable

wind-units as we approach. A


directs traffic from the center

of these crocuses in the piazza at night

by a sort of curving. The situation exits. Why

don’t we do the same?

A development can involve digging, “they” say;

uninterrupted filters do;

moments of capital

depict you on the beach.

Robin Hood's Barn 2



This is how the day would be: forgotten

Except that it rained slightly, like some cologne

You’d meant to buy, suggestive

Of the moment you were meant

To wear it in. The birds are terrible

But not mean, especially

Not to this happiness you put them to.

But probably heaven is sick with fruit and jewels

If not vegetables like hell which is resilient

And does not stray from the outline

Of a collapsed contour drawing, brushed

With oil and burning slightly

Just on the edge of solitude

Having turned to that

After the night conversions came

To dismiss you from the high table

Rotating in the stairwell as if to decide

Which way was worth its pursuit.

Come on and join the feasting

Grounds scattered like husks

In what could’ve been as still

As the final lemonade you sipped damply

And clean as a wick the way you intend

To be, speeding toward me,

The fine principle of abduction

Being a means to transport this boat from its clay

Mire that you reported to with your lantern

At the ready. Who were those people?

The twenty-nine of them dimming

The manor for some party

In a manner parallel to the rate

At which you think of steepness

Mounting the side of this roundabout palace

At an angle they determined to be purely aesthetic.

Serenity is the dumb luck

You rushed to meet the “How are you”s with

And turn the conversation to a few years

That rise into probability

Before anyone can stop them and snuff this burning

Bush which will ruin—if not us then

Our rapport with the deaf bears

Circling their distant apocalypse like a moon

Pulled to what waters shall know it

Though you better not dare to.

I am not the honored guest

They called you to greet. Quite possibly,

You are, and that would make me

And light something else that mothers

And protects this errant climate.


PAUL LEGAULT is the co-founder of the translation press Telephone Books; the author of three books of poetry: The Madeleine Poems (Omnidawn, 2010), The Other Poems (Fence, 2011), The Emily Dickinson Reader (McSweeney’s, 2012); and co-editor of The Sonnets: Translating & Rewriting Shakespeare (Nightboat/Telephone, 2012). He’s here:


Photo Credit: Jesse Hlebo