December 29, 2014 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION




Wally Swist





They designed the hydrocarbons.

They exploited free commerce.

They tried, on countless occasions, to sell

each and every tree in the forest and their shadows.

They accuse you of what they perpetrate.

They claim that you are dragging them down as they

drag all of us down.

They are responsible for the superabundance of rain

and snow in the north and the east

and the drought and the heat in the south and the west.

They are the reason why there is the irreversible

melting of the poles.

They will be remembered, if there is anyone left

to remember, for New York and Boston

being underwater, for parts of Florida becoming

just a memory.

They are the powerbrokers, the proponents

of shortsighted edicts

that don’t serve the republic,

since we no longer live in a democracy—

they are the heralds

of the new dark age:

the authoritarians, the solipsists, the libertarians,

the anarchists—

they made us do it.

They did it.

They were the ones.









            for Zach Moseley




I, too, know of migraines.  I seem to come

down with them in spells: stress, overexertion,


certain stark lighting (such as a ceiling appended

with rows of white Fluorescent bulbs that radiate


the glare of the aura of Golgotha).  I know

of the nefarious symptoms they precipitate:


the stereoscopic vision, the vertigo, the nausea.

I only am too aware of the pressure under the skull


insidiously moving globally from one lobe

to another, as if one were afflicted by an injection


of mercury sliding uncontrollably beneath the plates

of one’s cranial bones.  I also know of the total


surrender one must relinquish to and the patience

one needs to muster.  Then the letting go of even


that until its grip eventually dissolves after nearly

total submission: one that often necessitates more


than just a restive touch of quietude amidst the pain

and the strobe lights that make, even when one has


them shut, the eyes water.  I offer you my empathy.

Become well again, and you will.  Once the onslaught



of the migraine escalates, as only you can—

rest, lay low, and allow the temporal storm to pass.







Wally Swist

Wally Swist’s books include Huang Po and the Dimensions of Love (Southern Illinois University Press, 2012) and The Daodejing of Laozi, with David Breeden and Steven Schroeder (Lamar University Press, 2015).  His new poems appear in Commonweal, North American Review, and Rattle. Garrison Keillor recently read his poem “Radiance” on the daily radio program The Writer’s Almanac.


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