By Mark Bibbins Mark Bibbins
He can say it was a painting
He can say we were the painting
Or that the painting wasn’t painting
And that we only happen to ourselves

We can say we kept things running
by distracting ourselves
from the hideous truth
of  how things run

That we were broken
That we lingered near a broken factory
That we had broken

We can say that the disappointment
of slicing into a leek
and not finding the requisite layers
but a thick white inedible core
is not the disappointment
of approaching a sleeping animal
only to learn that it is dead
but it does nudge one slightly
further into despair

We said despair
We meant the strings of impossible
instruments that they made
in the factory
That we had seen
That were broken
That there were different paintings
That could be played as songs

We had seen other things
That we had seen
That had come unstrung
and blown between adjacent bridges
whose river had presented us a city
That was broken
That we had been
That we were broken
That was our city
This was our city
that was a song replaying itself in the dark

Source: Poetry (April 2014).


This poem originally appeared in the April 2014 issue of Poetry magazine

April 2014


Mark Bibbins is the author of Sky Lounge, a collection of poems. He teaches writing at The New School, where he also co-founded LIT magazine. He lives in New York City.

Continue reading this biography

Poems by Mark Bibbins

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Disappointment & Failure, Life Choices, Sorrow & Grieving

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine.

Search Every Issue of Poetry

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.