A Western Night

By Christopher Rager

I heard a page turn;
The crisp smudge
Of thumb upon paper.
I heard a life lunge,
But inadvertently,
Like wet linen licked
And whipped
By stiff winds.
I heard a door jamb,
Empty and framing a space.
Between this scape stood a man,
Not tall--
A star winking in western nights--
I thought his gut would speak
But an illness overcame.
He was unable to adequately explain
Why a thumb-smudged page
Should overturn.
I smelled the city lights
As I stood between
Window panes.
I calmly called the symbols
To align
And cursed the dissemblance
Of the page, the flame,
The linen, the wind,
The man.


Christopher Rager is a writer—focusing on poetry, the short story, and nonfiction—and an editor for Salem Press. He lives in Southern California with his wife, Isela, and son, Atticus. He earned his B.A. in literature from San Francisco State University and his M.A. in literature from California State University, Los Angeles. He cites William Faulkner, Wallace Stevens, W.B. Yeats, and Jack Kerouac as his literary influences.

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