Because the moon was a crystal ball between

two palms of space

and the stream wavered through fire-smoke

and it would sooner or later be midnight

you asked me for a reading.

I should not have used Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling.

“For the universe will constantly torture him and say,

‘You ought to have talked. Where will you find the certainty

that it was not after all a hidden pride which governed

your resolution?’”

You’d asked: when will I feel like myself again?

You seized the book and I asked: when will I feel like myself again?

“A poet is not an apostle; he drives out devils

only by the power of the devil.”

Damned as we were we asked that book

would it prefer to be fed to the fire or the brook?

Does a Branch Ever Feel Like It’s Stuck in a Tree?



1. Soul pushes at subcutaneous tissue, overflows

from pores into dirt—

feeling not unlike bleeding.

2. What I like about birds is that they’re very upfront.

They tell you what they want.

3. Unlace me like a sneaker.

4. (Archaic) Unlace me like a corset or someone wearing one.

5. I’ll trade you my whole body of poems plus a second one of flesh for yours against mine.

6. My hitchhiking, bushwhacking brother and I are bushwhacking in the forest.

7. Not weed whacking. Bushwhacking.

8. He sketches witch hazel into his notebook, rips out the page, gives it to me. “Hold onto this. So you can recognize me in my next life. This is what I’ll look like.”

9. There’s a butterfly here who looks like a hawk. Flies like one too. Fierce. Fast. In circles.

10. By the way I carved my phone number into a sugar maple tree, should you ever need to call me.

11. The next day I’m in Washington Square Park where only the old men are topless.

12. A man in a vest approaches me, sits next to me, demands we talk sensibly

about the Reincarnation Application Process.

13. Who gets it right in one try? Being alive?

14. So now we’re playing Twenty Questions and I’ve got to guess who he was in his last life. He only comes around as “big characters.”

15. So now MOSES pulls a glass and some liquor out of his bag and offers me some.

16. “No. Hell no. Thank you, no.”

17. So now Moses is drunk and wants to discuss the ulterior motives of gay men who strike up conversations with straight men they don’t know.

18. Then he tells me that in THIS life he’s a chiropractor and one day one of his patients just started levitating out of nowhere.

19. Then he tells me about a man in Nepal who was yanked out of a cave by his beard and deported.

20. I don’t seek Normalcy and it doesn’t seek me.

21. Then a man comes around with a sign that says FREE HUGS.

22. “I’m sorry, your prices are too steep. I can’t afford it right now I’m in college.”

23. Actually Normalcy flees me! But

24. if I’m a tree branch you can be the vines that shoot out of a neighboring stump and latch onto that branch. Go ahead. Grow on me.


As far as I know it’s legal.

I watched a ménage-a-trois:

two bees in a flower and the flower an active

participant! I saw

two eyebrows make like inchworms, venture to cross

that vast chasm where nose bridge meets third eye.

Is it possible Adam and Eve weren’t really

immortal before the apple but thought they were so

may as well have been?

I wasn’t born knowing I would die and if no one had told me

I might still be in the dark (the light?) about death and separation.

Then I’d get to celebrate

when the man in the subway terminal with a scratch-off ticket

wins the jackpot or my rival receives an award or a kid saves

a frog from the jaws of the snake and I’m not there even to bear

witness because it was fifteen years ago and the hero’s just

telling me now.

Molly Kirschner is a poet and dramatist. Her first book of poetry, 
Hard Proof, was published this year with Red Mountain Press and was the number one bestselling book from Small Press Distribution in the month of June. Her poems have been published in The Broadkill ReviewPoetry Quarterly Magazine, the Torrid Literature Journal, River Poets Journal, Rufous City Review, and the Legendary. She was a winner of the 19th Annual Young Playwrights Festival of Bergen County and won Honorable Mention in the NJ Young Playwrights Festival of 2011. In the spring of 2014, she was selected for Horizon Theatre's New South Young Playwrights Contest and Festival, where she developed a short play, “The Suit,” which was produced in 2015 as part of the March Short Play Lab at Midtown International Theatre Festival.

© Ira Joel Haber

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