Study in Contrast

by Justin Hamm

Your mother said

our failure was written

into our histories

at birth

and we laughed

at her ignorance.


But tonight

while your finger

glides across

the glossy pages

of Popular Science

I hold a séance

for the Holy Spirit

in utter seriousness

among the book clutter

and crumpled manifestos

in the basement

and none of it

seems particularly funny.


Earlier at dinner

the gunshot syllables

we discovered

on our unwilling tongues

scattered crows above

the curling cornstalks

engaged in espionage

at the edge of the yard


in a scene from

the mind of van Gogh.


I thought it was

an omen

but you called it

cause and effect

and exhaled in frustration


and now

after you've scoffed

one more time

at my feelings


after I've mourned

once again over

your thoughts

there is only this: silence.


and the blue night lingers

and the coming sun hesitates—

both reconsidering perhaps

their mutual obligations

or else the permanence

of the definition
of permanence