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& then afterward

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(i)
 
I woke to early sun:
burning of fire, & then afterward.
 
We kept reaching
through the long night.
 
 
(ii)
 
Afterward,
 
the small deceptions
we allow ourselves:
a sickness, unchecked.
Like this:
 
 
(iii)
 
& first sunlight.
Snow continues.
I could never close my eyes to light.
 
But there was no light
& you looked like night.
 
 
(iv)
 
There must be a pattern,
 
snow slow-dropping in wet clusters
through the wooden arms
of empty trees.
 
 
(v)
 
Sun fingering its way
through branches
 
I’d hung my life on.
We don’t matter a bit; realization
forces our eyes closed—
 
 
(vi)
 
A sickness, unchecked, like this.
I’d hung my life on
 
burning of fire, & then afterward.
 
 
(vii)
 
Our arms together
we searched for patterns
 
& sunlight.
 
 
(viii)
 
Our arms laced together,
pointing together
over wind-tossed grasses.
 
Us: waist deep in night blue.
 
 
(ix)
 
There was no light.
You pointed.
 
 
(x)
 
Sun overhead,
you pointed
to the wind-tossed grasses.
This is a memory now.
 
 
(xi)
 
Together in that first sun,
so vivid:
there must be a pattern
 
I’d hung my life on.
 
 
(xii)
 
Snow dropped in clusters,
staggered & jagged.
 
We don’t matter a bit.
 
 
(xiii)
 
Reflected in lake water:
all these things I’ll forget.
 
 
(xiv)
 
Our arms together
 
but we keep reaching
over the wind-tossed grasses.
 
 
(xv)
 
Black smoke curling:
 
the importance
of night-blue field grass,
 
 
(xvi)
 
the importance of.
 
The stars are close; we try to hold together.
 
 
(xvii)
 
All this ends
but until then:
 
burning of fire, & then afterward.
The stars are close; we try to hold.
Such distance between the fallen!
 
 
(xviii)
 
Burning of fire, & then afterward.
 
You pointed.
 
 
(xix)
 
Grasses silently fold,
a sickness, unchecked, reaching. Like this.
 
Wooden arms of trees
long since emptied.
 
 
(xx)
 
This ends in darkness,
& all the stars within reach,
& other constellations.

Nate Pritts, "& then afterward" from The Wonderfull Yeare (a shepherd’s calendar). Copyright © 2009 by Nate Pritts.  Reprinted by permission of Cooper Dillon Books. www.cooperdillon.com
Source: The Wonderfull Yeare (a shepherd’s calendar) (Cooper Dillon Books, 2009)
& then afterward

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  • Founder and editor of H_NGM_N literary journal and H_NGM_N BKS, Nate Pritts was born in Syracuse, New York. He earned an MFA from Warren Wilson College in 2000 and a PhD in creative writing and British Romanticism from the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, in 2003. His full-length collections of poetry include Sensational Spectacular (2007), Honorary Astronaut (2008), and The Wonderfull Yeare: a shepherd’s calendar (2010), Big Bright Sun (2010), and Sweet Nothing (2011).

    Pritts has been compared to the New York School poets, including Frank O’Hara, for his joyous revelry in shifting registers of language. Olivia Cronk, reviewing for Bookslut, observed: “Pritts uses the language, tone, and awkward silliness of a 1950s sci-fi-comicbook-pow-bang-robot-technical-failure world.” Cronk ultimately identified Pitts as an “everyman, heart wrenchingly casting his powerless fist up into the air as the flying machines and automated check-out lines further crush his soul.”

    Pritts has taught business writing and communication, creative...

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