the dead man who helps you wear your clothes

the radio is gone
from its place
next to your
father’s toolbox
the one he had before
you were born
turn on the light
take the cold towel
off my eyes
children are asleep
on either side of
a blanket
I’ll be there soon
the sound of the
stream is
getting closer
a husband is
insisting on
being close to two
blurred hands
while someone presses
the edge of a shovel
into the earth
be careful with each other
in the forest with
nobody be careful
of saying it was nobody
when really that wasn’t true
they will talk
about it later at
the beach
the wooden terrace
and those leaves
broader than
the deck chairs
he hasn’t cared
about anyone
until now
but the trees are
if you overdo it
just a little
you put a hole
in something
larger than my hand
everything you say
drifts a little like
the sound of water
where does it come
from why is she
waiting just outside
the door
the door of a
crumbling shack
with dirt in the yard
a man eating when he’s
supposed to be
someone else
he said
I always insist on
the red bird that flows
through my hometown
like a host of
desires crying
at the piano
in a separate room
the children act
like they don’t see him
he loves you
he wants you
to look at him
yes if
you are not too tired
his ugliness
walks away
he says today
I felt as I did when
I was a child
I could tell each
of you apart
a wife who has time
to picture her children
as they once were
he has already
decided whether
the boy’s face should
turn right or left
against the sound of
his own walking
his clothes shifting
and then going
silent when he
comes to a stop
his body glows
you can see
for miles over
the treetops
behind the house
his knee joints
the wrong way


change the sheets
and maybe someone
goes on butter yellow
porches wiping sweat
from someone’s throat
I’m living in
an empty seat
in a car for all these
people you’ve attracted
staring into space
on moving walkways
placing hands
on stones
or a kiss that
no one wanted
that summer
there was a stir outside
in gardens
on the top floors
of buildings
people passing each other
in the hall where
plants grow under
dirty windows
felt it
it doesn’t mean
you are being
dreamed of
driving a car
in total silence
in handwriting
destroyed by rain
there are clues somewhere
on a path
there were three of us
seeing clothes
on a clothesline
one tells a story
where no sound exists
there’s a lung
and a fistful of
grass and half
a face on its side
in a river the man
who appears when
you’re standing in water
says that he knows
the right people
and because he’s trying
to be optimistic
on nights when
it’s always you
on the other end
and the moons of
other planets are
a family gathered
around a burning
box there
are certain
ships that must
remain at sea

we are dripping
with the water they
drowned in
he said
the branch you
walk by hits
less of your face
and a lunatic
who eats a girl’s
necklace goes
through train stations
where secret
meetings are set
to take place

in a plastic bag
over someone’s head
don’t forget
a disused corner
of the city
in a dead month
someone you don’t know
turns gradually
toward the sun

your weak heart
is discovered
in a remote area
and brought into
a passive state
by the sound of
running water

the view down
is a dead man
who helps you
wear your clothes

John Colasacco

John Colasacco's books include Antigolf, The Information Crusher, Two Teenagers, and the forthcoming The Wagners. This excerpt is part of a book-length poem that was recently shortlisted for the 2016 Metatron Rising Authors Prize. Anyone interested in artistic/written collaboration can email at

Cover image by Sarah Meadows


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