Front Street, Portland, Oregon, 1939

From a photograph by Minor White

“For Heidegger, to be human is simply to be open to the presence of Being, and the mark of one’s openness to Being is one’s amazement.” – W.T. Jones

At dawn the clouds fill with whiskey
and a day becomes today
as in a bedtime fog a road comes true.

The road lies like a loaf.
We desire the simile.
One hand at a time, the day kneads down.

The warehouse windows are like a chessboard.
We would ready them.
They are only like a chessboard.

The reflections have not been invented,
black guts featureless or mistaken,
the pieces not placed,

though rooftops are edged with ornaments
patient as bishops,
maniacally agreeable as pawns.

Then light peels back
and again our impossible brains succeed.
Song and sweet design. Hear wind search

no longer like a dumb rootlet.
Praise the starness of that last star,
how like a star it is,

how unlike its sister
whose track of heat and light
your flesh has come to expect.

The mist and the clear air.
We could see both sides except
the coin turns endlessly.

How can that be explained,
so endless
so recognizable every morning?

Sean Bentley‘s work has appeared widely if not frequently in magazines and anthologies. His collections are Grace & Desolation(Cune 1996), Instances (Confluence, 1986) and Into the Bright Oasis (Jawbone, 1976). He’s been a technical editor and writer since 1988. He coedited Fine Madness magazine from 1986-2008. An erstwhile photographer, his blog can be found at

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