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jim nawrocki

The Hex Shank

Something miniscule has come asunder.
Void, that old insatiable giant, grows a little.
I have to walk down the hill because of a need.

What I want
is to draw back together what’s been broken,
to let flow the curious water of repair. 

I glow metastatic now. I’m a colander for light, blast me
with the rays of revelation, tell me what the shadows say,
the cells left behind, pulsing, rogue, rabid, and dirty.

Fuck them for staking a claim and refusing to go politely.
I told their darkness as much after my father turned yellow
and shrank gradually into nothing but not before

he moaned from out of a morphine meander
and I spoke, trying to breach the thickness of his pain,
and knew he didn’t hear his son, only swam

through a dim voice unmoored at the edge
of a floating luminous circle. But I prayed
to the window-shade of a God who plays

at coming out when no one else is looking. No one else
sees me now, and I don’t believe The Man Upstairs
was ever really watching. 

My body’s a harbor now for an off-kilter current,
the years behind me a road bordered by battered signs,
black arrows afloat in yellow fields, hinting a hazard.

So I take myself to Handsome Juan, purveyor of hardware,
who’s as dark, lit-up and world-weary as a Spanish saint, 
who hears my complaint and summons the arcana

of tools, drill bits, and screws, which he pulls from an infinity
of drawers, cabinets of curiosities, elegance after elegance,
so tiny as to be invisible,

metal traces of threads whorled toward the vanishing point
on a tip that can bore into wood, innumerable pieces of steel.
I watch his hands and hope he’s free, untethered. 

He does not know when he hands me my portion
but I pray the blurred astronomy of moles on his arm
carries nothing. The world can go wrong every day.


Jim Nawrocki’s poetry has appeared in Poetry, Kyoto Journal, Nimrod, Chroma Journal, and Mudfish, among others. It’s also been included in the anthologies, The Place That Inhabits Us: Poems of the San Francisco Bay Watershed (Sixteen Rivers Press, 2010) and Art & Understanding: Literature from the First Twenty Years (Black Lawrence Press, 2014). He wrote for the Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, and lived in San Francisco. Jim passed away in May 2018.