Nicholas Yingling


Begin. Even Aristotle believed
                     a sparrow
wintered in the same mud
                     that spawned eels
from nothing, you read
                     off the optometrist’s card.
Good, he says. He explains:
                     the fall shifted
your sense of self—of center—
                     left and one pupil
keeps pulling away, pulling
out of focus. It’s tiring
                     for a brain
to skip its own line,
                     to force a single room
from two distinct spaces.
                     You rest your eyes.
Now tell me, he says,
                     where do eels come from?

Back home it’s easier to live
                     without detail,
our beds and the bare wall
                     between us
a sort of ache. You’re expanding
                     in your dark.
I’m narrowing in the light
                     of a screen door.
Where does she come from,
                     this stranger who enters
you from the side
                     when I’m not
watching? Even Bell believed
                     a world, this world,
withstood being
                     looked at. I close. I open
like a cell splitting into what
                     I can only see
as two
                     of the same cell.



                    for Kari

It’s early enough to see the mountains.
Jetstreams unravel to sky. A red-tail
converts a diamondback into distance, warmth—
and it’s gone, your word for such an image.
Undeserved? How we came to it together
from different sides like the coyote
who passes me on the street, treading up
as I tread down. Light here takes a hard line
between cypress and her coat fills with shade
and empties and fills again with ease
like a bough of what is ash in name only.
I know it’s late but I offer you this
small concession: yes, all there is is life
and it’s early enough to see the mountains.



Nicholas Yingling is the author of The Fire Road (Barrow Street Press). His work has previously appeared in Poetry Daily, The Adroit Journal, The Missouri Review, 32 Poems, Pleiades, Colorado Review, and others. He lives in Los Angeles with a one-eared pitbull named Clementine.