Jason Labbe

Both Directions at Once
           after John Coltrane

If there is a slow and leafless white
oak beyond the clerestory windows
that fragments sky into chips of sea
glass between stripped grey limbs

If every exterior is jagged and divided
by a crack in the windshield
one side spring and the other
sleepless, both directions at once

If there is a poisoned lake under a green
film hazing a blizzard of minnows
If the diamond is somewhere on the bottom
but the shiny dime right there, at your feet

Come back, but don’t turn around, come
back from the dark end of of the street



Rain on Lens
           after Smog

The slant of light shifts one day to the next.
Four o’clock angle of sinking sun must lean precisely
through the window to make a little prism
on the wall. Today, rain appears on the glass,
no rainbow. The script of rivulets says nothing.
You run your middle finger down your foot-long scar,
sternum to navel, the past lingering at both ends.


Rain once blurred a spiderwebbed windshield,
but never your fixation on glass. Some days, you confuse
the lens for an eye. Sunnier days, birds fly straight
into the window. Some die. Every instant, another drop
on the pane. Mist veils the air, but not your vision:
the only bus leaving town is an endless stream
of rainy windows all blurring the same passenger.



Jason Labbe is author of two collections of poems, Maps for Jackie (2020) and Spleen Elegy (2017), as well as work recently appearing or forthcoming in Denver Quarterly, Poetry Northwest, Conjunctions, and Court Green. Jason edits the new journal HERE and lives in Bethany, Connecticut.