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    The Small Self and the Liberal Sky

    Perhaps you didn't realize

    Anything can happen under a sky like this.

    Never give in to surprise:

    Not for mountains

    Who turn under sheets and breathe in

    Each other's green scent;

    Not for the lights where nobody lives;

    Not for the blood-colored mushrooms

    That rise up one after one like little presidents;

    Not for the small self, afraid

    It has misunderstood the question.

    Oh it's prepared to answer anyway,

    It has its array of modest affirmations

    Like anyone. Just that –

    So many years and something in the leaves

    Does not fall.

    I find young starlings in the lake's ice,

    Their wings spread like death-flowers pressed in a book;

    Find moths spawned in the woodshed

    Like a winter's supply of blossoms.

    It's just that I was looking for a world

    to walk into empty-handed.

    That's when I found you, female, shamelessly

    Sailing toward me in your folded paper boat.

    Don't deny it, please.

    At night the self feels smaller

    And water is scarce in parts of the mind.

    The small self is obliged, therefore,

    To take back everything

    Anyone has ever said.

    No one is allowed to speak now

    but you.

    ––James Galvin

    As If.

    I thought it took

    A red-tailed hawk

    To make hunger

    Look so easy.

    As if

    It was your first time with me,

    You lay awake all night,

    Though your clothes

    Went right to sleep

    Like man's best friend

    When you slipped

    Into that other landscape.

    As if the steam iron

    Could dream

    Of being a whale,

    Becalmed in sea-wrinkles,

    The distance

    (Such a lonesome cowboy)

    Only shrugged

    And walked away.

    How were you to know

    What passions

    Stood on their toes

    For a better look

    When you brushed your hair

    From your forehead –

    They were undone!

    The vacant sun

    Has better manners

    Than anyone.

    When you rose

    In the first, slender light,

    It touched your shoulder –

    But only a little –

    As if to say

    Excuse me, you dropped this,

    Having risen all night to see you.

    ––James Galvin

    I've been reading Galvin's "Resurrection Update" the past day or two, so beautiful, a little haunting. Though he lives in Wyoming, anyone in the the west can claim his landscape. Or maybe just anyone. Wish I had time to write out Leaving the Tilted City, or Left-handed Poem. Or more, To See the Stars in Daylight, because I wrote a poem called We Live All Day Beneath the Stupid Fucking Stars, and it will teach me something.

    But it is the morning of Christmas Eve, and the to do list is long, and snow is falling out my window, making the world more quiet. Which makes me think of the snow post earlier, and Mary Ruefle.

    I would've call this post sky if I hadn't already used it. But I am glad I did, because small is more appropriate: this morning, poems, little quiet moments that break open the sky.




    1. of a size that is less than normal or usual. "the room was small and quiet"

    synonyms: little, compact, bijou, tiny, miniature, mini; minute, microscopic,minuscule; toy, baby; poky, cramped, boxy; informal teeny, teensy, itsy bitsy, itty bitty, pocket sized, half pint, little bitty; wee, short, little, petite, diminutive, elfin, tiny; puny, undersizestunted, dwarfish, midget, pygmy, Lilliputian; inadequate, meager, insufficient, ungenerous; informal measly, stingy, mingy, pathetic

    • not great in amount, number, strength, or power.

    • of limited size; not big

    • narrow, slender, thin

    • not fully grown or developed; young.

    • used as the first letter of a word that has both a general and a specific use to show that in this case the general use is intended.

    • insignificant; unimportant.

    synonyms: slight, minor, unimportant, trifling, trivial, insignificant,inconsequential, negligible, nugatory, infinitesimal;

    informal minuscule, piffling, piddling; de minimis

    • (of a voice) lacking strength and confidence.

    • little; hardly any.

    • (of a business or its owner) operating on a modest scale.

    synonyms: small-scale, modest, unpretentious, humble

    • archaic low or inferior in rank or position; socially undistinguished.


    1. something that is small: Do you prefer the small or the large?

    2. a small or narrow part, as of the back.

    3. those who are small: Democracy benefits the great and the small.

    4. smalls: small goods or products.

    5. smalls, British: underclothes; household linen, as napkins, pillowcases, etc.


    1. into small pieces. "the okra cut up small"

    • in a small size.

    "you shouldn't write so small"

    2. in low tones; softly


    Old English smæl, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch smal and German schmal, Greek mēlon small domestic animal

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