“Old Flame” by L. K.

L. K.


I think I see him at the brewery,
but it is hard to tell. He wears a mask
and shades, and keeps both on—coolly,
I think. I stare. He stares. I might unmask
him, saying, as he did: “Now that I’ve found
you, dear, I’m not sure what to do with you.”
No—I walk by. This morning’s moon was round
and blaze-red—weird—but, you know, every blue
moon there’s a blood moon. “Think I’m handsome now,
just wait,” he winked last spring, bandannas strewn,
still new. I should have known to know his brow
more thoroughly. Now every one’s a rune.
The sun’s the moon. The moon’s a ring
around a face that might be anything.

from Poets Respond
September 1, 2020


L. K.: “I live in Montana. A few days ago in the early morning, I saw what I thought was a blood moon. Later, I realized it was the sun, appearing crisp-edged and red in smoke from California fires. The same day, I thought I saw a man from my past. He was wearing sunglasses and a mask and standing behind something, so I had to judge whether it was him from just a sliver of forehead and an arm. I didn’t say anything and neither did he. Later, I saw the real moon—the kind of moon where the roundness is in shadow but still visible and the crescent is in light—like a bandanna-ed face, I realized as I wrote this poem. Lately, the world, masked and smoky, feels full of mystery, like a universe-sized costume party where even the moon and the sun (that old flame) go incognito. As I finished the poem, I was struck to see that its lines made the shape of a crescent, or a bandana. To finish the shape, I cut two syllables from each of two lines of the sonnet (the third and second-to-last lines)—tuck, tuck for symmetry.”

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