5 poems by Roy Liran




The lights were bright.

Two tables carried
refreshments and hot
drinks and bottles
of juice. Everyone

arrived and found a
seat. For a heartbeat
you felt caught wingless
in the gravity of
an endless moment.

Just like a bird.

Then your words began
to preen and hop over
the lush Persian carpets.

The brick walls and the
ceiling were replaced by
a salty breeze. A tropic
sun squinted into your
unblinking eyes. Words

lost substance, swooping
to beg for handouts from
the overdressed crowd.

Like seagulls.

The alleys of Montmartre

You always said we should visit Paris,
and I believed you, and one good

summer we packed two backpacks
and a dictionary, and took to the
architectural skies like post-modern

plastic pigeons. I remember how
Erik Satie walked us through the

alleys of Montmartre, unfolding
each like a newspaper, one for the
headlines, one for sports, one for

the weather, and once, on a street
corner, an accidental mime threw

imaginary fléchettes at your heart,
so I would walk the rest of my days
on the wrong side of your walls.

The last half

Slowly driving along
the long, short road.

From coast to coast,
through shaded valleys
and tallish peaks, but
mostly endless plains.

A week after crossing
an aging Mississippi I
paused for gas in a
middle-of-the-road town.

I clearly remember the
stale coffee and pretty
waitress served and
serving at a coffee shop
across the street. Not

for being special, they
were not, but having
left that town behind
I soon found that every
detail along the way –

a wayward wisteria, a
numberless house, an
empty parking space –

became the one
before the very last.

The ship of no return

on the stiff upper lip of a celestial
ocean, in the dim limelight of a
billion billion nuclear storms, I will
build for us the ship of no return
like a seasonal fallen leaf, floating
on currents and understated waves,
we’d gravitate in whirling calmness
towards the wells of boiling time
bare of feet we’ll climb silk ladders
to dance smooth moonrock decks,
and grasp at ropes and silver chains
to dangle at the edges, and later
holding lanterns in the shade of
gossamer sails miles wide, we’ll
breathe the dusty void like crickets,
bathe in liquid rhythms splashing
upwards from the keel, and drift
at last into obscurity, where nights
are long and days are new, far
from the center of the universe


Like me, you wear
knee-low trousers
under a deeply
tanned torso. Your

salt-sprayed head
is dark brown
ruffled feathers,

just like of a bird.

In the non-darkness
we slip out of your
mother’s cabin to hang
weightless in the nets
under the bow, skimming
the fluorescent waves.

We talk about the
things that come
to us. We watch an
urban chain of
glowing beads go by.

At dawn, you spread
your smiling mind
to fly ahead of me.

Like an albatross.


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