Astrid Alben

Shadowtrain books
Index to Poets
Carriage 44
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Carriage 38
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Carriage 35
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Carriage 33
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Carriage 31
Carriage 30
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Carriage 24
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Carriage 22
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Carriage 20
Carriage 19
Carriage 18
Carriage 17
Carriage 16
Carriage 15
Earlier carriages

The Other Country



Dreamt B spoke to me

telling me he sees

clouds drift in a carton of milk.


Evening light he says

is a flock of birds

skimming the rooftops westerly.




The sky disappeared that night

and in its stead a permanent cloudbank

squats on rooftops.


In this cloudbank small luminescent

baubles hover which I guess

B continues used to be streetlights.


The light sprains his shadow

dispersing me B says

running clear out from underneath me.




Across the border the river flows through the rain

yellow comes after mustard seed

every leaf is a slipper thlupping on summer


Across the border telephone wires

are caught in the antlers of the open road. It is where

why did you leave means why did you come back.


Across the border one foot easily

forgets the other but that’s neither here nor there.

It isn’t one thing or the other.



B says

the border is just a line.




But what he really wants to tell me

is that across the border

I want to speak to everybody


and most of all yes

most of all I want to speak to you.

Because everywhere


B persists

picking up the carton of milk

and raising it to his lips


everywhere he went that night

I watched babies being born

their fists tightly balled


but in death B says

wiping the corners of his mouth

our hands are open.



Parakeet Park



Last year there were 1252 official executions

worldwide. Earlier today in Spain thirty-four

year old Angelo Santomera was arrested

for taking his mother’s head out for a walk.

Why is memory painful?


I’m waiting.

I go walk in the park.

Is it just to push ahead?

I’m waiting for a letter so I tramp on.


I pass the foreign parakeets screaming 

in the birches since their great escape

and let my thoughts roll over. I remember

as a child I believed sunlight

was made from fingers, and in woodwork


I too managed to confabulate a pencil box.

Or as Mr. Moore used to say

joints knocking about half faintly half

something else: every form must always be fought.

Goodbye goodbye


Building excavations. Children on their way home.

The hours slowly resolving resemble fingers

kneading bread. I enter the shop on the corner and buy

a bunch of fresh mint and a bunch of coriander.

I’m told the two don’t mix in the same plastic bag.


Which is when I remember the letter.

Copyright © Astrid Alben, 2009