“Death Ruins It” by Caley O’Dwyer

Line drawing by Caley O'Dwyer of two people facing one another wearing embellished and plain robes respectively
Art by Caley O’Dwyer
I face myself, 
the thing convincing 
as a face can be, although it breaks
where it should mend in laughter. 
Do you believe in me though you 
should believe in nothing, 
where it hurts a little, that time
of life that stuns 
into you, so you see
the future, where you
stand guard, eager to accept you?
Everything I’ve known, little 
is more uncertain. It is like 
a glow, difficult to speak of.
So did we age, we as we are
in the comic paternity left us
by our beachcomber friends
who found in their time
words all around them gleaming. 
It stuck and I was me, some 
fraction of the truth, which 
more than anything was addition. 
The face is there, for a time
present, then it goes
into the earth, having seen
through the vast prism.
Sight is circles and cycles. 
The face changes what it wears
but always the eyes, 
silent and alone, holding course 
while everything that ever happened 
is added up then forgotten. 
Quiet trench in the sea,
years find the ships 
in your depths, but I am 
in the emerald light you promised me.
It is like the waxy contour of a leaf
the way it darkens and listens 
to our wanting a guarantee, 
some high-def purpose for being here.

Caley O’Dwyer’s poems have appeared in AMERICAN POETRY REVIEW, ALASKA QUARTERLY REVIEW, PRAIRIE SCHOONER, CREAM CITY REVIEW, ZOCALO PUBLIC SQUARE and other venues. He is a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and has received the Academy of American Poets University Prize, as well as a Helene Wurlitzer grant for poetry. A painter and psychotherapist in private practice, Caley teaches creative writing and clinical psychology at Antioch University Los Angeles. His first book, FULL NOVA, was published by Orchises Press in 2001. Other examples of his work can be found at caleyodwyer.com

Author photo courtesy of Audrey Mandelbaum.

Featured Photo by Caley O’Dwyer.