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18. Octane

I am running on glass.
Carafes and flutes are overturned.
The ditch follows every curve,
every camber is a spine going up, and out.

I am running on wood, lumber.
This is where all of my weight
belongs—atop fences, facades,
within torn down barns.

Taberna. Could I give up women and men
for anything that “hums”? The flexing
of their tongues is tireless,
smooth, a sound I cannot evade.

Prisión. How many convicts escape,
bear witness, and find a way?
What spanning of captivity will make a promise
that only a reptile can slither from?
I am running on scales and rawhide,
fur coats? Fine me a more lenient skin,
a predator whose ethic doesn’t vary
or limp.

I am running on fumes. There is nothing
more to pretend, I have gone too far,
any attraction that I see
will only get lost in a search for fuel.

Irun, Spain


Michael Quilty‘s work has been published in several North American journals and one anthology (“Best Canadian Poetry 2013”, Tightrope Books). His author selfie, taken long before the smartphone was invented, was recently updated by his niece. He lives near the water tower in Midland, Ontario.

To view other poems published in this issue please visit Vallum’s website.