David Welch


The boy pressed himself in the river with stones
smoothed by the pulse of the water, his veins
blue inside his wrists, blood pushing beneath his skin
as if the river were inside him, the sea dragging it always
down, its doubled beat turning
at its end back into the heart.
How have you found me, the boy said.
Like a bottle, said the audience. We cannot bear to see
how we left you here, a little clipped, a little green
under the sun, to drift back toward the sea.
If I am a bottle, the boy said, what is inside me.
Isn’t that the question, said the audience.
We find you floating like a bottle in the river;
uncleanly, little by little filling so you soon sink
like a boy left to drift alone toward the sea,
looking for the lower lights and prisms of jellyfish,
the softsexed bodies inking themselves into the dark.
In the sea, the boy said, mustn’t one look always forward
for the shore, as if without a lighthouse, the blood
slowing in the fog. Isn’t that the question,
said the audience; one in the fog must always leave
their dispositions out at sea.


If by Its Fur a Fox

The moon is nowhere     said the audience
Yes     the boy said the fox is nowhere too

And the faces we hold in our heads     the straw fires
of our fingers     the bees are nowhere
& the trees     The world is nowhere     the boy said what is this
When we find you in the sun as if a fox

said the audience    hanging
by its fur     Will that be the end of it the boy said
No     Here is the world

said the audience     and here is what to do with it    
What do I do     the boy said like an animal

here with its tongue on my neck     Here is the world
said the audience     Here is what we do with it   
We can see water

in the distance     The boy said an oasis    
How do we come to it said the audience     The water is nowhere

and it is rising     it is
rising     as if over sand and into the air
said the audience     It is rising

The boy said     So we can drink it
said the audience     when we are nowhere

Yes yes we can drink it the boy said    
What do we do with it when we are done


Murder Ballad

a translation for Jack Spicer


Because the figs withered
in the tree, the roots broke.

Your penis has broken
because you were dropped

on your head. A tumble
of broken roots.

At the root, a god.
You have fallen through the branches.


The Trees Having Already Prepared for Winter



Because he is walking in space,
the boy is weightless,

the audience observing
his surroundings

and how they look
at once bottomless

and shallow, a clear
lake under midnight,

no light because in the end
the end is only an absence

of color, no sound though
the world below is thick

with breathing, the trees having
already prepared for winter,

winter having already
prepared its audience

of snow to remember
the leaves: green-on-green

luminaria of noonlight
canopied over the sidewalk

and switch grass, chirr
of wind inside the ear,

footfall and rustle, little
death. The body enters

the world wet with breathing
and for a moment

it is weightless, the soft
branches of its bones nearly hollow.



He had made it a rule
 for many years of his life,—

 on the first Sunday-night
of every month

 throughout the whole year,
—as certain as ever

 the Sunday-night came,
—to wind up

 a large house-clock,
which we had standing

 on the back-stairs head,
with his own hands…



Inside the ear is a timepiece
made of wind. Inside

the wind: a table, chairs;
torso of a grandfather clock

lording over the room.
Generally the hands outline

such observations.
The house is built

inside the wind
and carried from country

to country like a glass
bottle sheltering

a small ship in the sea.
The clock ticks its wrists.

There are seven types of air
across the seven continents.



White air, blue air,
Air of an Unopened Bottle

in the Sea. Air of feeling
across the skin of milk

left long and drying
in its pail, the woods

taking in the sharp scent
of its ghost so completely

it cannot be detected.
The space between the trees

keeps on contracting,
squirreled into itself,

seed entering the dark
stomach of the ground,

travelling nowhere it will not
be found, eventually,

when it crosses wholly
back into the world.

What to see, what to
, the trees say,

the seams of their roots
reaching out toward

the sea, its depths darkly
full of empty spaces

where the air can
compress into its gears.

You see what is seen
and then you move away.



David Welch has poems recently published or forthcoming in journals including Cincinnati ReviewPleiades, & Typo. The poems published here are from his collection, Everyone Who Is Dead, forthcoming from Spork Press in Fall 2018. He lives in Chicago & teaches at DePaul University, where he is Assistant Director of Publishing & Outreach. Visit him virtually at www.davidwelch.me