Worst Things First, by Mark Bibbins

A bag of thank-you notes fell

on me and that was enough

art for one day. Culturally speaking,

it was more like a year

in the floral trenches, kicked off

with a single boneless kiss.

Poor sad demon in his poor dead tree—

or is it he who pities me, cockshy

quasihero with a latex lasso,

taking forever to measure


the dimensions of his confinement.

Some other demons have smeared a flock

of sparrows on a blanket, the full filthy

price of a sky under which they smoked

their names. My prize is a set

of teeth, striptease at the nude beach,

audio files of decomposing stars

telling me, if they’re telling me

anything, that theory’s just another word

for nothing left to like.

And You Thought You Were the Only One, by Mark Bibbins

Someone waits at my door. Because he is
dead he has time but I have my secrets–

this is what separates us from the dead.
See, I could order take-out or climb down

the fire escape, so it’s not as though he
is keeping me from anything I need.

While this may sound like something I made up,
it is not; I have forgotten how to

lie, despite all my capable teachers.
Lies are, in this way, I think, like music

and all is the same without them as with.
The fluid sky retains regret, then bursts.

He is still there, standing in the hall, insisting
he is someone I once knew and wanted,

come laden with gifts he cannot return.
If I open the door he’ll flash and fade

like heat lightning behind a bank of clouds
one summer night at the edge of the world.