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“Fallen,” “Mirror and Table”


Und in das Atmen der echten Gesichter
später, fallt nur ein Widerschein

He fell through cavities of time,
the forlorn, the debater,
objects of Love just out of reach,
a parody, an exterminator,

and all was changed. Such history:
he thought Babel a paradise,
objects of Love named, unnamed,
a pulse enough to satisfy.

He’d heard of “rock bottom,” but he
ate stones. He found feed
in the air! He woke up later
covered in mucus, and bird shit.

He’d heard of “ride the tiger.”
Decades passed. A dizziness
replaced the rhythms with mathematics,
the words with sarcasm.

Objects of love just out of reach,
but he rejected the Adamic,
wouldn’t name Her, her life,
the seconds wrought with trivialities.

He found feed in the air.
He was a secret entertainer.
He traded a red one for two blue ones.
He basked in the air conditioner.



an solchen Dingen habe ich schauen gelernt

There is a mirror—it doesn’t reflect,
it sees. Forces acquire mass,
and the ashtray with azure patterns,
the clear wine glass that bleeds gradients

of color, the brown table, the closed book—
these are the mirror of attention,
the solid, evanescent foundation
of I—that might otherwise be a rumor.

The arm is taut on its puppet string,
the hands swim blurrily, independent slugs
centrifugally arrayed from the palms,
the knee chatters its up-and-down,

the spine complains about writing,
the gut is a tempest of eating—
these are assurances that the poem is not
a syllogism that goes on repeating.

The crickets’ barbs through the screen door
are a balm for absented ears,
the trebly chatter of neighbors rehearsing
the latest shows are second hands,

the smoke that hovers feather-like
before a neurasthenic writer
are beats in an unproduced screenplay
about a Pronoun and its Master.

Brian Kim Stefans is a poet and professor of English (contemporary poetry and new media) at UCLA. His recent books include "Word Toys: Poetry and Technics" (2017), "Festivals of Patience: The Verse Poems of Arthur Rimbaud" (2021) and the poetry collection "For Trapped Things" (2023). He can be found online at

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by Diane Mehta