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Jed Myers

To Be Heard

Awake tonight again, risen from a place

I looked for someone in, and who was it

I’ve now forgotten, but the body’s left in

an urgent state of search without an object.

So I’m just about as in the dark

as some mad kid with a gun, he grips it

hidden in his pocket—he’s got no clue

who it is he needs to drive a bullet through.

I do remember wandering the alleyways

between the rows of houses, the concrete’s

long cracks venting up the under-night

to a music like dust pouring over itself.

I’d hear my name called as if from close

behind. It was a gust or a truck’s lurch

out on City Line. I’d turn and find no one

there but the world’s ruptured eardrum.


A question, a when, in that train-coach-narrow

living room, at our creaky dining room

table, in our tiny galley kitchen—

a when again, in those quiets between

our mother’s eruptions. We knew there would be

another tearing at love’s strained tendons,

but no words for it on any tongue’s tip—

no, tongues held in our dread’s silencing

grip. As though we were caught in a hard surf’s

rush—sure we could drown if

we opened our mouths too much. So we wouldn’t

inhale deep, not even to sing

the trouble’s name, if we knew it. Which wouldn’t

save us. It was about safety but not

about Russian missiles aimed from that island

outlined on the nightly news. Deathly sleeping

sickness mosquitoes might pass? The polio

licked off a friend’s red popsicle? No,

there’d be no reporting outside our skin

for these blasts, or for apprehension’s current

our limbs dreams thoughts shivered in

each moment, even through the long troughs

between the last and the next crests to crash

against us, her voice a howl-and-screech wind

of memories we’d never see but which were meant

to sudden us. What, an enraged god’s sentencing,

or our inoculations for sensing

the blow, the galloping in the earth, the torch gang

again out of nowhere, that ever-raised gavel

we’d damn well know is about to land?


for my brother

We step softly so as to not wake

a soul, arrive either side, and each

take an edge of the gauzy cloth.

With a nod to one another we lift

the white fabric—day splashes

onto the polished gray, what stands

for our earliest love, light-sharpened

shadow letters and numbers carved

deep enough our grief seems

to bleed from the rock. But look,

it’s sorrow’s dark spores, like swarms

of tiny flies—they surround us

and buzz high dirges. What loops

we’ll follow from here—old commutes

or cheap winter seats to Cancun, empty

eyes out for fresh fill-ins—we’ll stay

stuck on repeat, our dazed longing

easily caught by the bored bus driver,

the half-asleep checkout clerk, laughing

gull guarding its garbage heap, even

the gnashing cash machine…a shame,

how this loss you’d never bring on

and couldn’t stave off you still take

as a sign you caused the pain. It was

no one. Look, in the unmasked stone,

it’s time playing the daylight. Time

winding all the way back, and up close,

notice, her house burns

to the earth, her first husband blows

in a landmine blast, her aching

wrists freeze at the crib rail over

the infant’s wail—it’s in the glinting

stump, here on these ill-tended grounds,

grass tall, hedge barely groomed, sky

a rowdy gallery, gang of cumuli,

pack of grinning voyeurs.

We take the rabbi’s Aramaic cue,

keep staring through the granite screen

and there, also, our innocence

wavers with the shade of the beech

swaying over the grave. And isn’t that

us now, jumping up and down

on the night-blue sofa, you and I each

other’s clown? It takes nothing

to keep our small selves in stitches.


Jed Myers is author of Watching the Perseids (Sacramento Poetry Center Book Award), The Marriage of Space and Time (MoonPath Press), and, forthcoming, Learning to Hold (Wandering Aengus Press Editors’ Award). Recent writing appears or is forthcoming in Rattle, The Poetry Review, RHINO, The Greensboro Review, Rust + Moth,, On the Seawall, The National Poetry Review, and elsewhere. Myers lives in Seattle, where he edits the journal Bracken.


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