In her cold cold hands
the ailing summer
frayed as failing sight
what was once immaculate
gone gray around
the color the life
the gone gone sky
the dim lights shining
their haloed bewilderment
coming through as if
this were only
an innocent fog
and not a wicked trick
of the dying eye
she pauses at
the swelling in my throat
the arch of my brow
until the roof caves in
around us and I can breathe
no more and I say
oh honey I know
the way dark booms
fit to shatter
your timid hope
honey I know the way
moon appears a lock-jawed
bony-handed witch
in this low place
honey I know
you are so tired
of fighting
but remember
what you are
fire sister
an anchored sun
forever rising
remember what you are
sacred woman
bringer of light you must learn
to endure
the burning

Blues because
rest comes
to every house
but this one
blues because
it is heavy
here beneath
night’s baleful thicket
blues because
nothing is near enough
that reaching can hope
to encompass it
blues because
we spent
all hours
braced hard
with heads turned
blues because
the madness
of inertia
made us do it
blues because
it is better
this way
blues for us
blues for the hatchet man
blues for god
in his shattered heaven
blues for every fallen star
blues for all the world
blues for the things
that must shift
to lie better
and keep still
down deep
in the guts
where it hurts
most

Found: A pogrom.
Transmutation of
erasure. Protect this
tiniest star
buried deep beneath
sudden winter.
The ugliest form
of thievery.
Water things
we used to be.
Red sun breathing
on our bodies
before time stopped
drumming.
The way
we remember.
The way
it ended
softly.

You.
6 foot 4.
Gaunt and scabbed
in the three-o’clock sun.
Warning us about
the number 24.
The base of a pyramid
upon which the lie
of your life is built.

You went missing
for 12 days.
Turned up barefoot
out in Murfreesboro.
And now you’re here.

Only it isn’t quite you
sitting on the porch
chain smoking and telling us
how afraid you are
to drink water.
And how you spent
10 days naked in the dark
arranging pennies with your feet
into lines on the floor.
And how you haven’t slept
in 76 hours
because the dogs chew your feet
every time you close your eyes.

The old women say things.
The old women keep getting older.
And the brown-eyed girls
can’t be trusted
because the brown-eyed girls
are yours.

Valhalla!, you scream.
They keep saying this isn’t Valhalla!
Who the fuck said it was?!

Suddenly your face is an earthquake.
Is a dying storm.
Is a series of battles
gone starkly quiet.
An instant fills with a years-wide dark.
A grieved silence falls heavy and hard.
Narrowed eyes brim with questions.
Lick split lips ask,
Am I crazy? Do you hear that?
Eyes dart to the empty street.
I can’t sleep in this county.
I have to get to Christiana.

The sky paints itself
a sunset.
The sky paints itself
into a shocked and hopeless corner.
Edges appear
and we hold on to each other.
Ask what we can do
to keep you from falling.

The wind blows.
Your eyes close.
Something hinders.
Something folds.

It doesn’t matter.
Can’t you see?
I’m the deadest man
in the world.

If I speak your name the way
it is written
on the memorial,
I’ll go mad.
Not because I cannot fathom
your goneness
or bear to look
your mother in the face,
but because our vowels
cry out the same.
Because we are branches
of the same dirty river.

I survived.
And you did not.
Our shared blood
makes us both guilty.

This night is an open hand,
empty of you.
All its dead planets,
stark as the tracks
in your arms.
Its silvered needles traded
for a million tiny stars
no less sharp.

Outside it is wind and wind
a paper forest
that walls us in.

Inside the lights go out
and out
and out.

Cynthia Lynn Hopson Widner
07/01/1975 – 07/13/2014

From the second-floor window,
this place is a tragic country.
A city of tepid walls,
same as the whites of my eyes.

—-

A line of traffic appears as tribute.
A funeral.
Important and somber.
A slow crawl past something breathless
and unseen.

—-

The asphalt clutches its orphans.
Limbs and leaves from yesterday’s storm.
The mulch, flung wild from its quiet post.
We never lost power,
even when the roof blew off
the hotel down the street.
We heard fire trucks screaming down Watauga
and I kissed you as a reminder
to be grateful
that nothing is permanent.
Not the roiling black sky.
Not the cracks in the sidewalk.
Not even my own tired body,
the heaviest load I carry.

——-

They’re going to cut my throat in the fall,
take something I need
but must learn to live without.
But we are all learning,
waiting by windows.
Pushing our boundary of loss
further from its bloodless origin.

——

It is raining on the starless mountain.
A deer goes over the cliff.
Cruelty is met with silence.
The earth does not mourn
the way we do.

A garden of wounds,
burst through its sway-fenced seams.
Deep green water three days a week.
Blazing dawn oranges in hand.
Pale dusk and the look of faces.
The danger of hunger.
The riptide of circumstance.
Seated work, standing work.
Love and all its rapturous ache.
All its backbreaking tenderness.
The things I shift to carry better.
The things I’ve come to know
beneath such an intimate ruin.
Such careful hope despite
a thousand tiny deaths
whispered in the heat
of a day’s stretched murmur.


Stand and hold the dog by the hips,
tell her you’ve got her.
Tell her she’s a thousand ways better
in this water, which is only green
because the trees hang silent above it.
Only deep because it is summer.


And everything is deep now.


So I let go.
Walk into the water.
Breathe deep.
Swim.

I’ve gotten a lot of love from you guys lately and just wanted to say thank you. I’ve not been on much due to my dog rupturing both ACLs. It takes a lot of time, hard work, and love to heal something like this. We’re working on it. I’ll leave you with a happy pic of Abby and me at the lake. Swimming is the best rehab for injured joints. Thank you so much for your ceaseless support, it means so much. Love and good vibes from Abby and me!

Morning’s new fur,
kindling for love.

Morning’s constitutional:
Be brave. Be brave today.

On my cooling walls,
a crow speaks.
Morning’s shifting shapes.
Morning’s weightless bond.

The breaking apart
of night’s dark distress
has everything to do
with a lonely sun’s rising.

Morning waits
for the sake of waiting.
The holiest of beggars.
A slivered mouth of sky
that fits perfectly
my rounded bones.

1.

It is night beneath
a wrong-colored sky.
Combed by treeless thunder.
Raked raw and winded.

2.

Funnels drop and lift
at the edge of the city.
Green-gray spiders
with wispy bellies.
We wait for the sirens
but they never come.

3.

Lame dog shudders,
same as windows.
Licks the shine of the light
on the floor.
Blue light, quick and threatening.
The thick heat stays too long
in the margins of dusk.

4.

Rain soaked.
Storm clawed.
Suffocating darkness.
We hide
and forget to breathe.

5.

The light is gone.
Stolen and replaced
with some new thing
we haven’t tasted.
Tighter. Closer.
Less than safety.
More than warning.

6.

A sweeping, languid wave
against which
we can no longer hold.