November 3, 2016

Four Poems by Colin Dodds: "Rogues' Gallery," "The Survivor's Half-Meant Lament," "Unreliable Testimony," and "Peculiar Mirrors"

Colin Dodds is the author of  three books, Another Broken Wizard, WINDFALL and The Last Bad Job.  His writing has appeared in more than two hundred publications, and been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net Anthology.  Colin’s book-length poem That Happy Captive was a finalist for the Trio House Press Louise Bogan Award as well as the 42 Miles Press Poetry Award in 2015. His his screenplay, Refreshment, was named a semi-finalist in the 2010 American Zoetrope Contest. Colin lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and daughter. See more of his work at

"Heart Light" Photograph by Bert Happel

Rogues’ Gallery

Milk knotted to cheese, cheese folded to flesh
flesh staring out its own barred windows
bargaining with the rogues’ gallery
of things I need to think
just to think at all

     The Misunderstanding Hall of Fame
     The Marketers’ Valhalla
     The Goldbrick Court of Appeals
     The Neanderthal’s Nightmare
     The Vestal Ex-Girlfriends
     The Tomb of the Unknown Talk Show Host
     The Ark of the Half-Mumbled Suggestion That We Should Meet up Sometime
     The Unicorn’s Alibi
     The Solemn Oath of Temporary Employment, sworn upon a manila envelope of blank printer paper
     Handtowel contracts signed in smeared makeup
     Knots in milk
     The good work of pollution
     The heartfelt prayer for Continued Leeway

     And the unending beep programmed
     into the irrecoverable word
     to remind

The Survivor’s Half-Meant Lament

the wave trembled

Dazzled baffled beyond repair—
Repair in the sense of returning to an earlier
already-disproven safety—overshadowed
and wet already, the man on its beach tiptoed
to his motel room, through the trapdoor in his wallet
to secure some small sleep from a seeing
that even clenched eyes didn’t dim

His secret name washed out like a road
What he meant to die for or just remember
shrank to a bobbing speck in a crowded sea

The music stopped and every rampart
was landmarked by forces more tedious
than anyone can be passionate

Fears concresce desires specify gods withdraw
guesses carom if there ever was a secret name
if there was an actual core to reach for
if the etiquette of mortality was eerily indulgent up to a point
only to stiffen at the brink of a real breach

The situation in and out
normalizes according to the latest lazy witchcraft
exhaled from the vents of late-model cars
or burbled from the lips of the beautiful

The sunrise tints the sky
with the dingy tincture of failure and relief
that every survivor knows

Unreliable Testimony

Maybe he forced the issue
Maybe he used a little too much force

But his temperament is no accident
It may be the least accidental part of the story

If, as they say, visions come to the prepared soul
that night proved how unprepared he was

The mystic and the bruised woman talking to the cops
often offer the same testimony:

True love sometimes looks
like anything but

Peculiar Mirrors

The city is our destination, where entangled
between smaller destinations, we may feign stillness

We are all together here on the sidewalk
of the Via Roma Libere, but not utterly

We are at our childhood and near
to what we hope to recover from it

Our restless hands are more illusory than our minds
We can not hold on to any thing

A lion roars,
a shield of mirror in its mouth

Outside the cathedral the man imagines patrimony
and the woman imagines weddings

A Japanese woman charges past yelling Toilet! Toilet!
declaring a life without interruptions to be no life at all

We are like those ancient obscure statues
with a face for each direction

This fitful endeavor that animates and thwarts us
can never overcome us completely

Not on the sidewalk
where peculiar mirrors abound

~Colin Dodds

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