Hot Metal Bridge

Current Issue : Number Twenty-Five

The Angels in Heaven Cheer and Are Subsequently Silenced by God

BY JESSE NATHAN

And when the vision is over, night quiets
over me. Am I a madman,
an errant volt as wild as wolves,
as undiminished as an uncut moon?
Memory, you speckled thief,
what have you done
with my glasses again?
 
The table is covered: mortar
and brick, a sprig of parsley, unleavened
bread, hard-boiled eggs in saltwater,
even real shankbones. My lenses
have layers of scratches and I
blink and think how a knife
slices like silence any fresh-
baked life, how the steam
arrests any shining eyes,
how in the vision I could see
 
only hazy faceless
forms drifting fulvous
banks reaching each
one touching the water’s top
they slurp it sip it dip the tips
of little fingers choke
gag surrender spit dead
fish find their fingers
stained fermented red
scream hard in my head
o flattened god the Kansas
flows the Nile tonight
 
through even the cleanest lenses
I see fences phlegmed in gauze
see raving faceless forms
the heavy harvest moon
written in silver
written on the river
like a warrant.



Jesse Nathan is an associate editor at McSweeney's publishing in San Francisco. His poetry, fiction, criticism and essays have appeared in Geez, Adbusters, The Believer, McSweeney's, The San Francisco Chronicle, Visions, Tin House and elsewhere. He lives in Berkeley.