Bell tones for the exclusionary process.
The elevator you ride
means everything in the world.
A dismal pop song plays
when it all drops down.

I’m sorry, my dears,
I can’t find the final letter,
the one with the truth in it.
I don’t really want to find it.
It bellows flames of memory,
and who needs that?

Just before waking,
a light on the scene:
men slap severed duck legs hard,
so they will grow plump.
It’s a technique gourmets love.
They lie severed in a box
with no top, and the light
is just like steam.

“I could break your back,”
is the phrase. It wakes me up
and I answer, “I know, but
you won’t.” He lies back down.

Get the paper a little damp,
compress fibres and knock a while.
The outside of my head
projects a monumental
eclipse of visible stars.

Help yourself because no-one
else will. There is always a moment
when someone thinks they’ve made it.
This is what is called a hot discrepancy.

Alice Burdick lives in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, and is the author of four full-length collections of poetry, the most recent being Book of Short Sentences (Mansfield Press, Spring 2016). She also co-owns Lexicon Books, an independent bookstore in Lunenburg.