Two Poems

By Tania Runyan

Groanings Too Deep for Words

The morning I read about the newborn
found in the fast food dumpster,
heard the neighbor slam the door
on her idiot whore of a daughter,
and stepped on a Lego with my bare feet,
the magma of my own anger rising
with terrible speed, I grabbed the spade
from its winter storage and plunged
the cold steel into the earth.

Wars raged. My eyelid twitched.
But there was no prayer to save us,
just the lifting and turning of winter’s thaw,
my shovel crunching like a chant.
I wanted to curl into the clay, nest among
the locust nymphs lodged there like fetal hearts.
I lifted a clod throbbing with earthworms
and didn’t wipe my hands. I kept them there,
wet and alive, squeezing through my fingers.


Paul’s Blinding of Elymas

Sometimes you must do things out of love
that devastate the senses.

This wasn’t easy, Elymas. I know
blindness. I know how suddenly

the specks in the stones you can’t see
become something you would die for.

From the way you grope this cloud of mist
I know you’re trying to imagine

the color of the stars right now,
the blue-white shine that once

ignited your hands with power,
but can conjure only

the upturned bellies of poisoned frogs,
your mother’s dying lips.

Don’t you know how small
this life is? Even the stars

are just the sweat Christ shakes
from his brow. When you make crooked

the path to eternity, you send your brother
to oblivion, to the buried speck

in the midnight desert stone. This time,
no magic will save you. You

will have to find your life in the dark.
Today you will have to be led by the hand.


Tania Runyan’s second and most recent full-length book is A Thousand Vessels. She was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2011.

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