Patrick Culliton

A Constellation



The bear who holds the cluster of my organs

gives the string a tug

and I wake, opening the windows

to let a little air marry my parch.


The bear floats around my cavity

like pollen. He says wee.


It kills me when he does that

and when you’re on the porch

in a shirt, eating a few chapters


of an orange, unfazed

by the declarative thud of new phone books.

Most porches outlast us.


This makes me take a drink

of water whenever

you cough in your sleep.


I used to think I was nervous

but realize now I shimmer

like headlights on a distant car


approaching from the north

and cars are never nervous,

no matter how loud the radio.

Hocking Hills



The crickets sound like an old Chrysler

with a bad wheel. I don’t want to know

a world where the crickets sound

like a Chrysler after a tune-up.


Your moans would collapse

off the branches like science

class skeletons during an earthquake.




I can’t trust a breeze like you

do. I flap like dilapidated siding in a storm.

It’s exhausting. I’m seeing someone about it.


That’s what humans call diving

into a room of wind

for an hour. I know you


don’t understand that or when

I declare you Earth’s greatest bird

because you eschew the frill of song for grunt.


This morning, with its pancake headache,

the water called to me with the salt of accepting

this Patrick I’m crammed into,


a fearful continent of syllables

watching her slide in, swallowed by it,

before floating between my legs,


resurfacing, and climbing on my back.

Her weight on mine in that weightlessness

the closest I’ll come to flight,


which isn’t close at all,

but my dial found the wave,

our song returned to air,


and we laughed at your food’s

dumbfounded swivel back into the invisible

before returning to our room to imitate it.


PATRICK CULLITON is the author of Sam’s Teeth.