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3 poems by Paul Adler

The jeweled lips of Elvis open
   into an ambient scream,
that echoes through
   the bowling alley and into
the all-night liquor store
   where you turn from me
as if I were one more pearl
   in a long necklace of mistakes.
Amid glass embroidered
   corridors people discuss
news with the patient hum
   of hornets, and as you walk
swiftly toward the subway
   it feels as if something else
were approaching, like a song
   that plays and is played again
within me, we struggle always
   amid some bright company.
Texaco Divine
Before his master returned, Argos sang
   upon the heap—now the radio
croons with innocence and I think
   that to be remembered is to be
blamed for something, good or not.
   A headlight like a narwhal’s tusk
pierces the empty parking lot and gilds
   a bag of peanuts upon the shelf.
Already the contents of the convenience
   store seems to be refuse, a chaos that
returns in ebbing waves through
   each packaging and assurance of peace.
Tiny black coffins, candy bars regard
   the night and its array of small, sacred
lights as a dog steps to the window
   and begins scratching at the glass.
Where I fall
a field is always burning.
It is a chorus of sparrows
mounting toward space.
My mother feels my pulse
as if searching for
some smaller animal
within me.
And I can tell
that I am awake
because this room
and its pale life is my
most recurring dream.
Because, even now,
I am falling
and it is my mother’s voice
that rings as I fall.
Abandoning memory,
which is a husk of song
preserved by fire,
her body becomes
a tumble of crows.
The entire room blossoms
with black wings.
Paul Adler received his MFA from Columbia University where Matthew Zapruder recently selected his thesis manuscript as the winner of the 2012 David Craig Austin Prize. Paul lives in Boston and works as the Associate Editor of a magazine.