White Whale Review: An Online Literary Magazine Untitled Document
Nils Michals
Nils Michals' first collection of poems, Lure, won the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Award and was published by Pleiades and Louisiana State University Press. Recent work has appeared in Sonora Review, The Tusculum Review, and Bay Poetics. He teaches in the San Francisco bay area.
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Nils Michals

man wakes up shot in the head


I passed an afternoon stunned by the science of wood.

I passed an afternoon in an air-conditioned quiet

oarless through a valley carved by glacier.

Three Macks slid by,

each trucking a blade, super-white, of a huge propeller.

I passed an afternoon unsure of the question,

and when. The difficulty was:

the shipwright must love the sea

more than the ship.

The difficulty: vaulted sky, not a cloud,

the sound of a jet, but no jet.

Difficulty: how to get to the sugary item in air-tight plastic.

In the Stop & Go fruit did not look itself,

colors rinsed, contours leviathan.

                                                   Japanese floated

through a pipe. No one could deny

the centenarians filling aisles on tricked Larks,

deep-bassed Glenn Miller,

grand tortoise sweeps of hands, ticker-tape grins.



Nils Michals

“Man with Headache Finds Bullet in Head” read the Times,

the man who woke with a hole

pounding from the pocket

of a distant galaxy, a B flat fifty seven

octaves below a middle C.


In time hills greened. Traffic synchronized.

Infants began to see what they didn’t know they’d come to find,

the late afternoon a land

where everything thought to lift: brassy forties

in poor hands, blooming cacti, strapless teenlets

smacking lip gloss, and so on.

Even the sparrows thought they were jetliners.

                                                                                        How intrinsic

earnestness! How triumphant biblical tongues

just then! And just after how massive the failure!

In little beeps the centenarians reversed into pastel

dinnerwear, into the blaze of sidewalks, soon replaced

by shamed, damaged Asians squatting, smoking,

squatting and smoking, pacing without movement of arms



Nils Michals

past the low-slung hoods spilling dice against a wall.

My teeth could not drift through the packaging,

the candy a diamond in the glass.

And so it was how to give the slip

to the same lanky brunette.

And so it was the question all around I could not

remember, and when,

but for which the answer was just

a glimpse, as through a passing window,

of a square of ocean.






Copyright © Nils Michals. White Whale Review, issue 2.1

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