reduction by Jim Wardell

we are reduced to vacation photographs
lighthouses & sunsets & out of focus
crumpled monuments
in late autumn we slept with the door open
to hear the ocean grumble & watch
lightning jitter
it was worth the bite & sting
of the balcony to overlook
morning with you
we drank instant coffee & waited
for sunrise to burn away
the lingered chill
this is nice you said folding into my arm
but don’t wake me this early
ever again
i am not with you & we are breathless
beneath light sheets we spar & climb
scarcely able to speak
one then two then three
words hang on
remembering requires me to imagine
the when of a thing I know as a where
it does not matter
so much as speech
leaves us
tumbled & broken with terrible
urgent words we lie wounded
in the rubbled


i named the stars
for you & you gave me
trinkets in return
                  half-dozen roses in a second-hand vase
                  line or two of second-rate verse
                  locket & thimble & painted shot glass
i drew balloon hearts
around clichés & you called it love
even the stars knew better

Jim Wardell plays, writes, teaches and learns at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise. Some days he works. Recent publications include Snakeskin Magazine, Tipton Poetry Review, and Goliath Magazine.