Back to Issue Eleven.

Waking in the Year of the Boar



Those feathers in the bushes were not left by angels—

those smokestacks blowing, trying to be light, say believe 

or be lost. And clouds move over just-hammered nails.

Who are we to live forever? Along I-80, goats graze,

testing the fences, not knowing there’s no heaven— 

& grosbeaks going South, to the Carolina basins, rest 

in palm-crowns older than churches: they do not care 

they may vanish in the Atlantic. My father is dead—

by my foot, an ant on his way to the hole, a sibling 

on his back, follows instinct down to dark: how we 

miss what is gone, simply because it’s gone. And a drift

of leaves hides the buried from their names, & there are 

dead hives in the river with no fear of night, & it is 

quiet on 18th Street, in the year of the boar & the verb

“to be.” A voice saying: sleep—we are less important than bees



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Brian Tierney is a 2014-2016 Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University, and a graduate of the Bennington College MFA Writing Seminars. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in AGNIBest New Poets 2013The Kenyon ReviewNarrativeHayden's Ferry Review, and others.

More by Brian Tierney:
"Elegy for the Mattresses Sleeping in the Past," Poetry, Issue Eleven.
"Unburying the Birthcord," Poetry, Issue Eleven.