William Auten

—which led me to palindromes
for this refracted age after 9/11:
Satan oscillate my metallic sonatas

And so in Salem the Devil lived
for a time, in 1692, walked among
the things that won’t stay—

which may have led my fingers, guided
across the alphabet on the little plank, tri-cornered
field of whistles in dark woods

and frail sounds near muddy banks.
But speak to me: What is the material world?
Is it blooming on coral sternums

off a pirate coast? Alive down
Midwestern suburban streets?
You know, the fringe parks there

were once engraved with pentagrams.
This was when I was a child
and may hardly matter now or again tomorrow.

But Lucifer among us: crescent-moon king in America.
Summation of indolence; hair in a river bed;
cat calls for white shoes in shadows

of a late afternoon. If she floats,
if she floats…. As for the old bay
colony: ships limped in, ships limped out.

Whales made their breath known.
And about the rocks, lanterns strung for days,
suited for surfacing a story.

William Auten

William Auten's poems and paintings have appeared in failbetter, Hayden's Ferry Review, Literary Salt, Nimrod, Sycamore Review, and other publications. His Website is