All You Ask For is Longing by Sean Thomas Dougherty

Those strangers pairing off at last & each desiring

What little mercy the other can afford.

–Larry Levis

Y not that year empty with strangers. Y not the silence of wanting.

Y not when we laughed with rain with something, lounging high, touching

your bare shoulders, when I was born.

Y not your long hair that turns within. When the sirens begin. Y not a

kind of disruption, a kind of rupture by arrangement.

Y not the archeology of Other. Y not limbs, tattoos, the DT’s at dawn, H’s

widow’s hungering, sweating on the fire-escape smoking in her bra.

Y not out of style is loss. Your old clothes in boxes, someone’s scrawled


Y not from you as if dulled with liquor, on the bare mattress, your open

thighs. To step in their stillness was to become the word erased.

Y not a kind of rain, a kind of arms, a kind of shouting, after a while I

couldn’t sleep without you.

Y not some of your friends when we were young, the one with stubble,

eyes like glass. When you were nothing.

Y not their frail bodies, shining.

Y not snow, the syllabics of suffering,


Y not elegies spray painted on basketball courts, each stroke says tomorrow

I won’t be here.

Y not waiting—thank you—ceaseless—passing of being human.

Y not my glance—stillness—blue listened for music in your room, an

ascension overheard through the paper walls.

Y not the way we’d map the cracks in the ceiling—the dim bulb absence


Y not you, why can’t I—you in this city at closing hour, this strange going

improvised ravine, summer rain among the living.

Y not towards your story, green indecipherable shadows, faces I want

would, longing, to cathedral—

Y not two voices that diminuendo, the point at which what is revealed,

is what leaves—

by Sean Thomas Dougherty

published in Jubilat

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