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Kevin McIlvoy

Descriptions of Heaven

Got your note

from the canyon—

glad to know you’re

there again.

& why go

so often now?

Old as I am, I’ve

never been there

since, well, forever—&

can you and I imagine or

remember then?

I don’t imagine I’ve

ever gotten such

fine descriptions of

heaven from you

even when you

were bringing your

school drawings home,

sixty years back.

Glad to have your

note about that

chilling warming

canyonlight, those well-

marked morning paths,

evening stars raining,

tent walls wiffling in

wind, taste of campfire

smoke, coals murmuring,

your own foot odor, your

back creaking, your

pencil screeching

in the quietness.

I’m going where your

words take me. Glad to

follow them alone so

far down, far in, beyond

our estranged distance.

Once you brought

home a drawing of your

pretend dad, who

crowded the small

sheet with his greatness.

You said his name

was Goddam, my

favorite expression

at the time. A mighty

man, his big hair

high, big eyes and

mouth smeary with joy.

His strong arms too straight

for elbows. His fingers,

ten on each hand,

long as rays of

sun or lightning.

The thing’s still taped

to the fridge. Come see.


This one speaks to displacement

she said and

thanked us

for coming to

the reading

and read

her last one.

In the car

the ride spoke to

the ride and

I said to the car

So then it’s how

one thing speaks to

another? And does

or doesn’t listen?

The signs spoke

in signs

to the roads

and the roads

spoke to the

darkness they divide.

In the lot

of Wal-Mart

the tall lamps

spoke to the tall lamps

the automatic In door

to the Out.

My empty cart spoke to

the caged cart-herd

and my empty heart to

the full trashcan

at the entrance speaking

to the tradition

of clearly marked

clean entrances.

O Out

O In

I’m trying to explain

why I’ve chosen

to cry my tears here

instead of out there.

The parking spaces

empty at this hour

but never done


are asking the

full spaces

for help

in understanding.


Kevin McIlvoy, a retired teacher, lives in Asheville, North Carolina, where he is at work on his first book of poems. New poems appear in The Georgia Review, Your Impossible Voice, Willow Springs, Consequence, Barzakh, The Night Heron Barks, JMWW, Still, and other magazines.


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