View Archives by:


These So, These Irretrievable

Jasper Bernes

Nearer than the darkest places dark marks 'private, toxic
       material, keep out'
--all these nine obstinate, abstinent months
this one untouchable double vodka daylight wobbles
atop the rich, abysmal burnish: miniature
island-chains of late sun, lens fire.

Ice cubes
chime the stinging ping of BBs
fired at my mother’s toppling heap of mawkish bottles. . . .
Drink still shakes her hand, old foul-weather friend,
as it would mine in hers, furred with twitching antennae.

But no, it’s wrong there, time, it has always
been wrong—the always, the still
distillery of will-lessness, of lessness writ illegible,
mine as much as more or less anyone’s.

There is only really one drunk, who us living ones
approximate in a scythe-bent tending toward.
I’m seven and neverteen and ten-to-one while
I watch the sheer, unstoppered spirits
slosh and peak and trough—enjoyed, anointed,
moderating gift to those who need it less than us,
who wouldn’t package in singular need pleasure’s slurred plurals.

No story there, or here, only addiction to description,
the additive descriptions of description, the injured
long-inured liver, the bile-blacked brain attached
to the brewery’s phallic paps—obliterate meaning
to blot the lettered meaning out, efface, remove from

what anguishings there would or were— mother tossed
in the frosting loss of consequence, the plotless serial
vodkas at dawn, as dawn.

                                     (When we drank together
it was incest, I carried you to bed).

In physics, mother, it’s called the event horizon,
that threshing and threshold of a black hole
beyond which no light can escape, warped inward and
       inward in
an asymptotic, bottomless
fall that from here appears instant
but isn’t, it isn’t and isn’t instant and I insist—

Jasper Bernes

Read Bio

Author Discusses Poems