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Ryan Lally

I stare at this sum of subtraction:
“4084 lynched” catches the throat

with words that won’t come out, clinging
to the dorsum of the tongue, cleaving

like a soft punch
Pushed gradually into the stomach

until it slices
like rope into skin.

I stare at the number
until you become

conversations, until your eyes are no longer burned
out photographs.

I calculate all of you;
I am greedy with vision

and I wonder
if this multiplies your pains.

You are dead and unchained
to this crisis of clarity

and I am a rag spun from unknowing and
like a town of witnesses

I am saturated with the guilt of all this knowing
and I look at your charred bodies made

sacred and sanctified
and your eyes are uncrossed infinities

unmaking me.
I fear truth and I fear

forgetting anything about you,
but your silence tells me

I will die
with all the questions

still half-formed in a tomb
I will die

without answers.
I am incurably prone to hyperbole,

but believe me:
I love you all,

so I will take these clippings of your souls
And remember you.

Issue 10, 2018, pp. 22-23