Brad Liening


It isn’t always a cloud of toxic gas
stripping the flesh from my face,
poisoning my bones.
Sometimes it’s email
or a person just sitting across the table,
total silence by turns pleasing
then terrifying. Triclosan,
bisphenol, synthetic lilac. 100 varieties
of banality. The tunnel
inside the tunnel is the tunnel
you get lost in. The sky far away
and this weird shade of pink.
You’re the last native speaker of this language
and I’m botching the preservation.
Our lives together and separate
unspool upon the floor.
What horrors emerge from
the dusty church, the bedroom closet,
adults who do indeed know better.
Every one of them is your dad
rehydrated and angry,
filling their faces up with blood.
A bank ascends into the heavens above
people up all night dreaming 
of a living wage.

Brad Liening lives in Minneapolis, MN, and at Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Bad Pony, Uut, and elsewhere.