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  • Duets and Shapes, and: Co-morbid
  • Daniel Gutstein (bio)

Duets and Shapes

The cactus wren going suite-sweet, a woodpecker thumping code into a dusty trunk. Wind in terms of tonnage, amplitude. Rain, the running child in tears, spotting the brick underfoot. To the left, a funnel cloud drifts backward like old-timey locomotive smoke, for half a minute, then everything in blossom— a hundred tomatoes twinkling on the vine. Men sit in the space thunder rushes to fill.

. . . It rains everywhere but in streetlamps, nickels in water in a bucket, shaken. A measure of petals blown from the palm. Birds like pepper dashed against the sky. Vortical. Disaggregate. Afterward, the orange of a terrible blaze, orange in each kid’s eye, hot as a radiator. Ricka tick ticka: Ricka tick. Atop the hill, houses ache like a row of rotting teeth. A honeybee will groom the direction of that flower’s perfume. [End Page 149]

. . . The air dark as blueberries, blue ink on the hands. The last of the rain a deep breath. Clouds the exhaust of a dead front. Half the solution in the mind of the bridge and half in the bridge of the mind. At the four-way stop, a tall kid wearing a slouch hat but no face. Tomorrow, the sun will bloom like a bright stone in a shallow stream. For now, the night of that corner. The edge of its getting. Jive. Triplicate. A bad droplet of anger.


Woke when the train glided over the river, water lines on the stone legs of a second bridge. How high the current had swollen, stewed in eddies and wake. Woke to the opposite train, shutters of shadowy paint splashed on rectangles of light, a face every seven windows. The wheels, steel on crown of the rail, radius of engine powering down. The sterile tunnel, its high arch as if to pool pleas, please, whispers, vespers. Upstairs, in the day, squalls of bright clouds, warm in a cold season. Deco. Petal slick. [End Page 150] An old silver bus blustering up beneath a dead lamp. The avenue turned north where the structure began to break even. Woke into or out of a body muscling the drop toward a mouthful of sea or sky. If only the sidewalk carried on for half a day. A sign without its “P” read “ark.” A pay phone clanged several hours outside the blue and white takeout. A speaker in the wide-open meeting hall said, “Pause.” She said, “Half the chairs clapped.”

Daniel Gutstein

Daniel Gutstein’s first book, non/fiction, is a mixed-genre collection due out shortly from Edge Books. His work has appeared in more than four dozen journals and anthologies, including Best American Poetry. Currently he runs the Writing Studio and Learning Resource Center at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.



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pp. 149-151
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