For days, Whistle, the world breaks
down into a series of scenes,
at the spring fed pool on Mother’s Day,
in the produce aisle, at the ball game,
golden lit, the about to be shattered,
already doomed normal before
the monster or the monster wave hits—
sunshine on the canoe and glinting off
the water smooth inches from the falls,
innocently making a salad or taking
a shower. It feels like a play today,
Whistle, or like a piece of the future
has lodged itself in my shoulder.
Monday it’s a report on the impossible
future of bananas. Tuesday it’s the story
of limes held hostage by cartels. Both
still appear on our shelves, but we don’t
know for how long. News comes and goes,
but fate is a cycle longer to unfold.
The fact is, Whistle, we turn and turn
away. Because it’s too terrifying.
Because today the world is here for us
with heart-shaped peaches ripening
in a brown paper bag. There’s no way
to repay borrowed time, Whistle,
so we spend it.



Lisa Olstein is the author of three books of poetry from Copper Canyon Press: Radio Crackling, Radio Gone, winner of the Hayden Carruth Award; Lost Alphabet, a Library Journal best book of the year; and Little Stranger, a Lannan Literary Selection. Her work has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including The Nation, American Letters & Commentary, and Boston Review. Recipient of a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from the Sustainable Arts Foundation, Massachusetts Cultural Council, and Centrum, she is the lyricist for the rock band Cold Satellite, fronted by acclaimed songwriter Jeffrey Foucault. She teaches in the MFA programs at UT Austin.



  1. Pingback: Issue Eleven, 2015 | Matter
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