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Winter 2004, Volume 21.2


Dennis Saleh

Photo of Dennis Saleh.

Dennis Saleh's poetry, prose, and artwork have appeared widely in magazines and collections, such as ArtLife, Montserrat Review, Paintbrush, and Psychological Perspectives. Selections of his poems are also included in three forthcoming anthologies, The Great American Poetry Show, The Mercy of Tides, and The Pagan's Muse.


Belladonna Nightshade

In the wet of early spring
kinds of belladonna and nightshade

in the waste ground
at the bottom of trees

The dull flowers
are almost mistakes

first tries early in the year
still clouded with winter

For a week it breaks the surface
uncoils, loosening in the earth

then hangs the miniature folded bells
of its first blossoms in the sun

The cup petals shake out silence
dust in the wind

bells, the sound of dark earth
bells, the ringing toll of nothing

The first roll of color is faint red
then purple, like the hood of dusk

the first black berries
are like drops of night

black pearls in
the stalks and branches

swollen, almost glittering
like ornaments of a deadly lady

The flowers are in a hall
the flowers are in a grave

the blossoms sway and lift
offering like hands

They touch the lips with sleep
they lead back into darkness

They remind the spring of death
dying planned and carried out



The light outside
falling on the brick two-story,
the blinds sipping in

a little, that streams
with settling dust on the landscape
of wheat painting

and striped-sofa;
pale yellow replicas
of sailing boats on a lake;

flowers in a vase
on a shelf, a little water on them,
long stems crossing

in the dark then still;
there is something here
that will not come back again,

even tomorrow.
Dogs bark at the afternoon;
they are right to do that.



Between December and January
there is almost nothing

the flat grey stretches between dawn
but then no further light all day

caulk of decomposing cardboard scrap
down a garage siding

collage mark of winter
Clouds hang like errors mistakes

like an enormous dull bell
that swells and rolls with rain

In the last weeks of December
mistletoe trails and clouds

in the trees like wind
that caught webbed and stayed

When the leaves began to fall
it began to show

Then winter came on a Sunday
and it was grey

Mistletoe is a parasite
The tree it is filling will die

The little berries could be skulls
tiny moons rising in hair

dull white dusted with frost
in the ringing cold

could be bells tolling last nights
of a year that hang and fall

The death of the tree
will fill the mistletoe for months

It is in the tree
like the tree is in its grave

It is like brain in a tree
It makes a head


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