On the occasional and unpredictable nights
When you’re without a roommate
I like to read aloud from whatever happens
To distract me at the moment   I read aloud while
You sleep   as I would if you were a child or
If we’d ever had one to read to
As if you were a child and not a woman
Who was never the type to be ashamed
Of her age   just a couple hundred years
Ago   odds are   we’d both be dead by now anyhow
I read aloud Economic life was intertwined
In these turbulent times
With the life of politics and the life of the mind
To no one in particular   sitting in a hospital
It’s easy to see the only life that matters
Is the life of the body   tired I close the book and rest
My head on your chest which rises and falls
To the rhythm of the empire.

About the author:
Brian Russell holds an MFA from the University of Houston, where he served as poetry editor of Gulf Coast. His manuscript, Nights under Water, was a finalist for this year’s Miller Williams Prize (University of Arkansas Press) and Cleveland State First Book Prize. The poems included in this issue are from a new manuscript.

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