A Chain of Tiny Disasters

A widow is sort of a holy figure, while a divorcée is a tawdry one.

A Common Story

“I think he does not care for art; I fancy he has not even read Pushkin.”

A Distant Episode

The distant past returned—what part of it, he could not decide.

A Farmer’s Life: Xiwuqi, Inner Mongolia

For my vacation last summer, I visited the Bateer family in Xiwuqi.

A Human History in the Wilderness

My grandfather committed my grandmother to a mental asylum.

A Journey along the Atlantic Slave Route

Neither blood nor belonging accounted for my presence in Ghana.

A Master at Work

Man is always beginning everything anew, even in his own life.

A Model Prisoner

A Palazzo in Florence

In Florence I gained a sense of how I might want to spend my life.

A Partial History of Lost Causes

Chess was a humiliation that hung over him like a leper’s bell.

A Separate Set of Signs

Is she dreaming of the rivers soft with codling in her hometown?

A Shrine at the Inn

It was true. We would probably never visit that place again.

A Sleigh Ride

Some inner voice told her that now or never her fate would be decided.

A Smile of Fortune

She favoured me with an even more viciously scornful “Don’t care!”

A Trick of the Light

My desire to be in sync with him had nearly been my undoing.

A Weary Desperado

I was convinced she’d be back in the morning, like the sun.

A Winter Walk

After breakfast I set out to see what my wild neighbors have been up to.


However hard you try to make amends, they will still condemn you.


We are going south where I know that my father is going to die.


The guards ripped off Mara’s clothes, pinning her head against the wall.

Addendum and Other Poems

The animals are dying. All the beautiful women are dying too.

Aeneas Leaves Kansas

All night the insects’ grinding jaws chewed through the darkness.


If he’d had that seat belt on, he would have been pinned inside.

After It

I sit next to a man I never loved but let kiss me wetly for two months.

After the Fire, the Sound of a Low Whisper

Our life is fine as it is, she would say to him, and it seemed true.

Afternoon and After

The event was an accelerator. So much matter crashed, vaporized.

Against Surrealism

…when you walk to the edge of the Mekong and make a wish…

Aim High Olongapo

From the flight deck Gray could see home, wherever that might be.

All Saints All Souls

This is the day when the saints all go silently to church in France.

All That Floats

Devanand Simon was twenty-five when the bodies fell from the sky.