Richard Deming


From Some Elsewhere

In the dream you have of the dead, he says to himself, they come back and you’ve five minutes to spend with them, to ask of your life together, to ask why the heart is sometimes but not always a bitter root.  It is night now, he says, and it should be better at this hour because the alleyways narrow and music carries beyond the rooftops but in the same dream the dead sit at picnic tables and eat cold sandwiches and drink wine intended for others. 

It is an effort simply to arrive and ask open questions, isn’t it, for anyone, let alone they who have come from deserted places, where memory is an empty ledger, and if we do not hear it is not for a want of listening.  So far from silence, where will you place your hands? What one wants is sliced from the throat and placed in a small wooden box alongside a frayed ribbon, playing cards, nails, a shard of blue glass.  An awful sea, distant every time, and the name that finds it, elsewhere.



Richard Deming is a poet and critic whose poems have appeared in FieldSulfurColorado ReviewMandorlaKisok, and other magazines, as well as in the anthology Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present, edited by David Lehman. He is the author of Somewhere Hereabouts, published in the A.bacus series by Potes and Poets Press. Currently he is a lecturer for the English Department at Yale University.  With Nancy Kuhl he edits Phylum Press.