The Pigeons Complain

Empty niches dirty dishes
Wishes like the trash
the wind sticks to our shins
Every agency of renewal
runs too fast or too late
Streets recite the scars inflicted by unpaid bills
A woman checks parked cars for unlocked doors
kicks open a broken barbecue on a cold sidewalk

A man examines a bus schedule
by the light of a cell phone and tallies
the broken promises that landed him there
A pigeon with one foot gone
gives as bold an appraisal as her peers
for a little while
Cranes lift cranes into position
An unfinished tower rises blurry with scaffolding
a scarecrow against the present
Apartment and office buildings appear
through the petroleum glass of warped windows
still reeling from the sin they committed or suffered
The local tragedy’s chain-link fence
clogged with stuffed animals
The stained-glass windows choked by forms
Every saintly impulse restrained by thorns,
the pigeons complain
Moral compasses convert to geiger counters
then roulette wheels
Restaurants fill with people who’ve gotten very good
at things they once hated others for
Pretty women glide and clomp past
billionaires and bums just as pretty for each
tormenting each going to shops
where anything can cost anything
The ethical vertigo at the apogee and abyss
of the municipal food chain enthralls us
Threaded between them, the sidewalk
is a carousel of eyes unmet


In the Infraction

Trying to count the number of drinks it takes
to feel like I wasn’t born
into the wrong species and solar system
Nose pressed to thick foggy glass in my idlest hours
Reminiscing about blackout-stanched evenings
and friendships badly ended
I sure wish I could reminisce better
Losing count of the drinks it takes
to sing along with the voice that hums
Just because you’re tired
doesn’t mean you should go to sleep
Just because you’re baffled
doesn’t mean you need an answer
Watching football and rooting for the ball
awash in ads for male-failure pills
TV cheerleaders reflected
in the scratched plastic of framed photos
of the bar owner’s flash-whitened son posing
with shitfaced not-quite celebrities
And yet I expect visions


Paralysis Regained

Like an infant weeping and sleeping
through a relentless education
in the world’s otherness and insistence
Like a young drunk unable
to stand or speak but wide awake
with every element of cognition and action
stuttering in tatters
Like a lover frozen
midstride with emotion and desire
too large to question or begin to obey
Like a mourner learning
what the infant learned with a better mind
and still finding no adequate answer
beyond weeping and sleeping
Wilderness between exhale and inhale
that only a sob adequately inhabits
where language is untrustworthy
where memory flinches but does not fail
Dead end too alive to live in
warned-of altar from which
you may not bring back report
only kneel and pray
This is the experience
that exempts the experiencer
from understanding it


Colin Dodds is the author of Another Broken Wizard, WINDFALL and The Last Bad Job, which Norman Mailer touted as showing “something that very few writers have; a species of inner talent that owes very little to other people.” His writing has appeared in more than two hundred publications, and been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net Anthology. Poet and songwriter David Berman (Silver Jews, Actual Air) said of Dodds’ work: “These are very good poems. For moments I could even feel the old feelings when I read them.” Colin’s book-length poem That Happy Captive was a finalist for the Trio House Press Louise Bogan Award as well as the 42 Miles Press Poetry Award in 2015. And his screenplay, Refreshment, was named a semi-finalist in the 2010 American Zoetrope Contest. Colin lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and daughter. See more of his work at