Thomas Dooley

The Perpendiculars

we appear
in iconography
amid the stones
that were used to kill us

the same stones
used in the walls
of the village church
that stands amid

parallels of broken
sticks lost to the river
where stones at the bottom
are smoothed by current

in iconography the church
is a river a steady current
smoothing stones
of their edges

sometimes we appear
amid the river
but not lost
to its current we came in

at an angle amid a river
of parallels the cowlick
to be pressed down
by our mother’s hand

in iconography
we appear amid the stones
that built a church
that tried to kill us

and yet we appear
amid the parallels
but at an angle
sharp with edges



Thomas Dooley is the author of Trespass (Harper Perennial, 2014), selected by the National Poetry Series. His poetry and collaborations have appeared widely, most notably with the Academy of American Poets, Poetry Society of America, PBS NewsHour, and on National Public Radio. He has received fellowships from New York University, Starlight Foundation, Jentel Foundation, and Vermont Studio Center. Thomas is the Founding Artistic Director of Emotive Fruition, an organization dedicated to changing the way artists and audiences engage with live poetry, for which he has curated and directed over thirty live events and brought together hundreds of poets, theatre artists, and audiences.