George Kovalenko
Spooky Action at a Distance

​Somehow it seems like almost every night now most everyone disappears someplace:

Portland or Hanoi or the dark side of Uranus. And it stings, remembering how
all together we passed the yard where once we prodded in the debris what we shouldn’t have,

baby fat coagulate with hornet-welts, swooning and shrieking, face down on the lawn,
flesh patterned thicker and thicker by the moment, remembering that bad ideas

are always better than the worst ones. I already miss that kind of memory,
angry and pointed enough to prick its way into the future.

When, in the thin transatlantic warble of absolute distance, you broke my heart
and insisted I quit my graveyard watch as a complete fucking downer,

I know we both felt it then as clearly as a pinkie caught between the prongs
of a string of Christmas lights and the socket’s withering white:

if time is always on the precipice of leaving us, of breaking down into particulates,
is always oil-wet light, waveform, parapet, public park, windbalm, bayside in the capital,

fourth birthday, reconceptualization, terrarium, split lip, pop music, space,
is the mid-afternoon moon—which is a bull to the cloudbank’s sheeted dodge—​​

is walking this way, talking, taking our time, is trying to recollect, is the worst
possible breath in the most beautiful mouth, is this again at three in the morning,

is deathly ill, and cool, and ankle deep, which is itself a kind of recollection
of possibility, is itself a tectonic slippage represented as the biggest mistake of all,

then, in these moments, please: let’s try again.

Remember how we used to wonder rather than know? We, wasted
on the dawn, sickled over and over again; we, torpid, mal-equipped magicians;

we, livid, caustic potion to the storehouses, hex over hex over hex;
how many times we rose and fell; we, too much even to ourselves; we and the living;

could we but remember it completely; we, dreamcrackers; we, distant,
once and again, magnificent cavalcades against the monstrous camps of our conditions.

George Kovalenko is a poet whose work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Colorado ReviewCrazyhorseThe Iowa Review OnlineNew SouthHorsethief, and elsewhere. He is the recipient of fellowships from New York University and the Saltonstall Foundation. A founding editor of Poet’s Country, he lives and teaches in New York City.