Yard Sale Organs

By Dylan R. Ragas

In Italy / Mary & Joanna

In Italy I learn things that I did not learn

In early spring I see six unfinished statues lined up
along a hall, carved apostles for an aging priest.
What is it to be the artist and die
before your patron ever could, your last days littered
with drops of plaster kissing your face, to die before
they could scoop out the crisp green olives from the chalices,
splay them across your victory? As the apostle, you stare piously
at your viewer and renounce love. As religion, you keep your gates
shut tight. In death you view life as a series of small deaths:
aggregate, confusing. Gold dots the frame of your vision, you can’t
tell if you’re falling up or down, a snake that you painted
bites you in a place where you do not want to be bitten.
Hodge-podged animals direct you to heaven & hell
as a group of phone-less, new people look on.

Mary & Joanna

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Inherited / Northeast Regional


For somewhere, there’s a house that’s burning.
An old man rambles how after a hard day of work the first thing
they gifted the farmers was a potato like a gnarled fist.
The boy on the red-stitched rug pauses, notes the
pause, says I love that. To the enthusiasm and never the
suffering. Earlier in the day the lights direct traffic. The boy is
walking because it’s green because it says so.
Down the street there’s a song playing on the old man’s radio
about the brine at the bottom of olive jars.
How the lover used to laugh when the loved one drank it.
It makes the old man want to eat his own hand.
The boy thinks one day he will live in Italy, in a vaguely religious
castle. He thinks the moon will droop like hot brie cheese, he thinks
he will find a broad-faced man to love in Italy, that they will
pierce thin tubes into each other’s arms and ping blood to one another
like a fetishized donation or the ultimate show
of affection. The boy is sitting in the center row of the
Exhibition theater, now. Third row, below the lightbox.
A broad-faced man bows at him and then the cast slinks
backstage, curtain rippling like black velvet soil
over the fists of potatoes.

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Absence / Siren


Before you were the body with the medicine you were
decomposing (composed), crusted gelatin in the sun.
Before you were hunter/hunted, a rounded rodent in a liminal
forest, you cried and your wail sounded animalistic.
You threaded wires through your fingers, ate sunflower seeds
from clouded plastic bags, pet a blonde dog, swallowed a clear
pink bead. Lucy is in the Sky with Diamonds as long as your cousin
plays the right colored notes on Guitar Hero. Years down the line,
you will profess your love for the eighties on a cobbled street
in Antigua, you will learn that it was all about drugs, all of it.
Oh, how you’ll freeze for a moment, despite your being too old
to be scared by psychedelics. There’s a flutter of hands as the people
who you claim don’t know you flock to your aid. Faces in a gray,
hazy dark. You are crumpled, hard and unyielding flesh
on a faux-tiled floor. Then sound is minced out of you
at the river, early in the night-morning, while a man with a guitar
walks by. You thought he’d clock your pain. Write a ballad, write
something. It is always you who writes. You whose voice floats
into the river like a light boat that still observes gravity. Plunks silently
into the glass water. Soars downstream.

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Blood Gone Red / Blood Song

Blood Gone Red

In September there is an edge of things that returns. Yet you feel
the film lift, dissolve, like the clear liquid of an egg or
the shell, pulled back and discarded. You are no longer
the red goat, no longer unrecognizable to your mother,
you return home and your homecoming
is acknowledged. In God’s hot car, the windows slide
like the reel of an old projector, show you a New
Hampshire highway and let in some pine-spiked air.
Before life started you used to live in the Pennsylvania woods
and trace the veins of leaves onto scrap paper, you used to jump
from couch to futon in the yellow living room and sing
reggae, ignore the red at the intersection
near your grandmother’s house and feel shame
when your sister snitched you out. Now, when you reach
away from yourself, you don’t feel the embryo of yourself
but air, space, a puppet who has crossed some line, and now
you are alive, blood as red as the goat child, blood
as red as anyone else’s, and your skin may be wood and
your form like a chess piece but you can hurt people now.
You can move diagonally or forward, to the side. You can
wrap fairy lights around your neck like an awful necklace and it
will allure someone, they will follow you and translate things for you
that ought not be translated. You will forget about the letters you wrote,
the stamps you never bought. You will forget that people
aren’t puppets, that you could never utter those words, no, you
could never phrase it all quite right, could not send them
to the puppeteer. God’s hot car sails
along the northeast coast of a stolen land, streaked and
yellowing with light trails like dying fireflies. In your palm you press
fingernails into flesh, like a doctor who checks the pulses
of things.

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Verona / Manhunt


Been thinking a lot about orange and blue.
Sun on brick and cerulean skies. How you’d see it
and from what vantage point. It’s feeling like
Romeo and Juliet, these days, all wilting iris petals,

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