Clade Song 8 Banner
CladeSong8 left

Boroughs of an Inescapable Center

On this scorched postage stamp
of the qualified coast
where intersections slosh buoyant on alien tides
and eternity vies for completion
through lazy futurism, amalgamated paganism
and an archipelago of oxidized spires
I plant my flag, and so on, again

The center is the most dangerous thing to hold
The idol (or was it idle, idyll, maybe I’d’ll…) shattered
into dyker heights, new utrecht, bath beach, gravesend
where a glacier, head heavy, sweated boulders
and interrupted the sea

Maybe the winners took all
but they only knew about winning
There’s plenty left—diner coffee, slack bicycle chains
baseball on the radio and all the time in the world, like it was
before something (maybe a predator and maybe your mother)
sank its fangs into the scruff of your neck

A little boy in a suit and hat stands tiptoe
on the sidewalk’s carpet of pink petals to look
through the window of his own house

We bury our heroes and bosses in the spine
under the benediction of a thrift-store Minerva
and humanize the hump with street signs and graffiti
humping meaning into it until every damn dream
is coming true, if you can ignore the smell of sewage
after warm rains, on a skirt-lifting breeze

Navigating by resemblance, aligning apartment blocks
with the creep of sediment and sentiment
row houses bubble up and boil down to chapels and banks
busy with pick axes, bee hives and anchors

High strung magnificent scenarios
strung together on a wire of catastrophe
to redraw the patterns inside eyelids, make mute stones
say ‘insurance’ or whatever we need said that year
An incredible voice mispronouncing a truth
so preposterous it needs an omnipotent God
and an infinite unseen world just to constrain it

And how quiet the unclaimed avenue
at three am all comradery and vomit expended
Summer weeds leap from concrete
A broken-jawed cloud whale dissolves
on a discontinuous moon slow as consolation
Flags flicker like flames
and flames flap like flags

I, now you, alive after all that happened
breathe effortlessly the unaccounted-for air
and blink awake to our situation:
To owe the impossible
to the outrageous


Clade Song 8 right

Colin Dodds is a writer. His work has appeared in more than 250 publications, been anthologized, nominated and shortlisted for numerous prizes, and praised by luminaries including Norman Mailer and David Berman. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and daughter. See more of his work at