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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, March 9, 2016.
About this Poem 

“‘Bildungsroman’ is a work of communal elegy. This excerpt is dedicated to the memory of Scott Campbell, my friend, co-conspirator, and classmate of twelve years, who was found dead in his car of a drug overdose several months before his thirtieth birthday.”
—Malachi Black

from “Bildungsroman”

                     i.m. Scott David Campbell (1982-2012)

 

Streetlights were our stars,
hanging from the midnight    
                                  in a planetary arc
above each empty ShopRite    
parking lot—spreading     
                                  steam-bright
through the neon dark—
buzzing like ghost locusts,
                                  trembling in the chrome
trance of an electrical charge
nested in each exoskeleton—
                                  pulling, pooling
a single syllable of light
from the long braid      
                                  of the powerlines
sighing above us as we climbed    
through bedroom windows
                                  with our hair combed
and our high-tops carefully untied—
as we clung to vinyl siding,
                                  as we crawled
crablike across rooftops, edging
toe-first toward the gutters
                                  so as not to rouse
the dogs—as we crept down    
onto cold drainpipes     
                                  through the lightning
in our lungs, leaping at last
into our shadows and at last
                                  onto the lawn,
landing as if in genuflection
to the afterhours fog—
                                  fluorescent
as the breath we left
beside us on the train tracks
                                  as we walked
each toward the others,
toward the barebulb
                                  glow of stardust
on the dumpsters
in the vacant late-night, lost

Copyright © 2016 Malachi Black. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2016 Malachi Black. Used with permission of the author.

Malachi Black

Malachi Black

Malachi Black is the author of Storm Toward Morning (Copper Canyon Press, 2014).

by this poet

poem

drops from upper air,
                                         like rain,
clinging brightly
                                 to the fresh-cut hair
of children
                          and the infantry:
all hail
                 the clicking heel, all will
regale