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Spain, 1989

remember their sky-blue sphere back and forth

glowing on the beach? those 2 figures. that night.

past the market district, the volleyball nets,

the sand-weathered steps, moonlight salting us

along Calle Bateles, peach graffiti, burst batteries

to Rio Salado’s percussive normalcy, where we sat.


them sit. by the water. foam in their icy robes.

piling sand into a little wall. a universal object.

orb between them, toward the plum-sky stars.

they were strange. we thought them somewhat

German. then the bleached mist rolled in, yanked

by a wire, like a curtain closing on the vision.


there was the giant, deep in the tempest. I do not.

Pedro swears. I recall the thin deep furrows

in the sand. little sculptures of barcodes.

he recalls the empty eyes, burrowing

into his binoculars. but did he have them?

I’m not sure. wind is time, sand the image.


that man arrived to explain everything. boats, cables,

a submarine. the nullifying spell of the state acronym.

my details, yours, and truth branching.

remember? one more thing and I’ll leave.

remember growing up. how we played catch outside

the secret Military House. boarded windows, nice garden.

did we?



China, ~2000 BCE, maybe

in the happy outside of time understood

they nestled in the crook of their z- and x-axes.

the scorched laurel pinned itself to the loam

as the bored scholar tried to climb the ladder

with forty-seven rockets taped to a chair.

how did it feel back then? everything, I mean.

the edge of the world knife at your throat,

misery’s avatar and her black soot leaking.

heaven was right up there

like with a lift you could give it a lick.



Chile, 1977

the avocado trees

never bore fruit

after that night

spent cradling

the silver craft

like fingertips

upholding an urn

the neighbor’s dog

died the next day

still I detected

something to them

the stooped figures

a complex peace

like a new shape

moving impossibly

against time

my slender fear

changed to love

flooding my room

in gentle light

I could see myself

up to my nails

maybe the sinister

is just projection



California, 1977

it was like the light was inside my head,

she said. and the distant object felt within

reach. time was all choppy, she told me.

like running in a dream. very slapstick.

no haptic feedback from gravity, ground,

foot, or muscles, so the brain ragdolls.

her husband threw up. but their daughter

spied a frogman in its cream-colored windows

glaring above the beams with big, wet eyes.

it zoomed off but lingered over a winery.

I clutch their details like vines over a river,

letting go of one as I swing to the next.

what question is even sensible? looking down

from the moon’s marble teeth, looking up

from a leather steering wheel.

they’re all telling the truth. they look at me

with searching, hopeful eyes. I want the study

to be serious. the child draws a frogman.

so I bought a bottle from the ‘77 harvest.

to be thorough. the alien vintage. it was light,

notes of river water. an aroma like old cherries.

the cream label depicts a wagon on a beach.

everyone thinks everyone’s a bit mad, don’t they?

the wine was of no particular distinction.



Russia, 1962

decades before, in Blagoveshchensk,

your grandma saw strange fires

in the sky during the revolution.

there are mysteries inside the mysteries,

she would say, and she was right.

you wrest one open and find another

in your lap, curled up like a sable

holding a small box of shadow

and a puzzle piece of rusted metal.

you find more pieces over time

until the puzzle resembles a key.

you look for its lock without knowing why.

you organize trips to the mountains,

bring city folk who search for lights

but rest their eyes on the campfire.

you keep looking up, see locks

sliding through heaven too fast to catch.

you wear the key around your neck.

one night, lying down on a mound

of fresh hay, you watch a smoking

lockbox fall a hundred meters away.

you spring up and see a burning man

escape the box and crest the hill

in vivid detail. he says your name.

you are told to speak softly. you are

invited inside the box, where one

extends a gloved and glowing

hand into your chest and holds

your hunted rabbit heart. you pass

into a meadow warmth. you feel

the light emit from bowls of milk.

you want to shout but language

shrinks from deep inside your head

like spiderwebs in barren trees.

they take your key. they give you

a box. you stumble back to camp.

the box is casket heavy.

it is locked.

you will carry it for years.


August Smith is an artist in Austin, TX. You can view his poems, songs, and games here:

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