No Other Way

            for DY


We could be coy

and pretend weíre not

in the business of selling

ourselves to the world,

to each other but

already we hear

the horses charging

through the fog,

the lights in the houses

winking out one by one,

night pressing down

around the azaleas.

The basset hound disappears

and itís hard not to read

our lives as a basset hound

always disappearing.

This tree sounds hollow

but it isnít: inside

are the things we wished

weíd buried deeper,

a phone call lasting

from two a.m. till

still hasnít stopped,

not through the weddings

or blenders mixing the drinks

we drink poolside twenty

years, one country,

and a badly cut finger later

as the cloudy sky opens

above us, the hurricane

picking up speed

as it makes landfall,

churning up the dirt

and flattening grasses

and sending frogs

deeper into the mud.

Those frogs will be fine,

itís those of us who canít

breathe through skin

weíve got to worry about,

those of us not at home

in two different worlds.


Money Never Sleeps


Many years ago you were stabbed

in an alley behind an abandoned hotel.

This event has defined your life

in ways both overt and subtle.

For example, years later,

you got lost in an apple orchard

on the darkest night of the year.

You were trapped in a bamboo cage

suspended over a river of lava.

You were elected to public office

multiple times. And, years before that,

when you were eking out a living on

Sunset and Vine, a muted trumpet

and tsking hi-hat accompanied you

as you slunk from shadow to shadow.

Thatís when you knew your

destiny was both sexy and horrible,

like the magician in fishnets who

saws himself in half night after night,

coins pouring from his wounds.


Fly Me to the Moon


I was confused and then

I was totally fucked up.

This happens sometimes.

A kitten called to me in the night.

A kite called me into the sky

where I was deeply afraid

not of being in the sky

but of suddenly not being in the sky.

The hill dotted with dandelions.

The hill dotted with light.

From up in the air

the hills look like grapes

in the mouth of the wolf.

The cloud passes over,

whale-like, like the memory

of your mother walking you

to school, shotgun

in hand, back when you

could do things like that.

Now Iím one million years old.

Who knows about you.

Probably youíre like me,

which is a bee dusted

with what makes flowers grow,

zooming over the bones

of someoneís childhood pet

underneath the earth.


Brad Liening is the author of Ghosts and Doppelgangers  (Lowbrow Press) and several chapbooks, including We Are Doomed: Dispatches from the City of the Future (InDigest Editions). He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two cats.