American Darkness

Brian Clifton

When I pulled my arm from the thistles, I became a new American. One who bled. Who carried within many stinging needles—some laced with seeds. I turned the lights on in the hallway and then ran back to the bedroom to do the opposite. I kept up this chain until I was in the foyer, answering the feverish doorbell. I knew water would wash my wounds clean, and so I let it pour over my capillaries. I howled out the door. Shadows curved into more shadows. Their arms bent around shrubbery, and their heads erupted across patio stairs. In the backyard, a new country erupts into war. I held a single thistle where its stem was without needles. I wrapped my arm in a cloth and watched it darken. I shut the door; I opened the window—no longer alone.

Brian Clifton has work in: Pleiades, Guernica, Cincinnati Review, Salt Hill, Colorado Review, The Journal, Beloit Poetry Journal, and other magazines. They are an avid record collector and curator of curiosities.




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