Eric Tran

Aubade with Withdrawal

Somehow I’ve slept under the buzzing
sun of the detox center lobby.

When I wake, you’re gone
behind the locked doors. I almost—

what’s the word, expected? hoped?
—for a short goodbye, a punch

on the shoulder, your lips
letting some tiny breath turn

into song. The attendants see me
startle awake and play polite,

like they’re too familiar
with this loss. What do you know

about me, I want to ask. Not
from anger, truly, but because time

is always a question.
                                        When night slips

its sequin dress
                              back on, it’s still

night knowing when
                                        it’s time to leave

and in its wake
                              a ripple hiding

blackbirds, brackish
                                        silt with hundreds

of eyes
               all looking backwards.




Again, lightning
bug. Stiletto breath,
sing the shotgun

of an engine start.
Tipped balance. Ledge
and body suspended

in sleep. Poppy gone
to seed, burnt under
summer’s unforgiving

affection. Brutal
and begging. Braggart
and belabored.

Deepest nightshade,
ripen on the vine.



Eric Tran is a resident physician in psychiatry in Asheville. He received an MFA from UNC Wilmington. His debut, the Gutter Spread Guide to Prayer, won the Autumn House Press's Rising Writer Prize and his work appears in Iowa Review, Poetry Daily, Poetry Northwest, and elsewhere.