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In the way beetles bang against the wall of my house, I want to explore space. In the way clouds stall in humid weather, scowling at everything below, I want to rewrite all of the great books backwards—or, no, instead, I want to slip between the floorboards where several families of ghosts already dwell. In the way I pluck these random words, I want to compose a symphony of car engines backfiring, of cardinal songs—no, no birds—of air conditioners that run all day long in the hot sun, dripping condensation on ticklish stones, of metal window blinds that wrinkle and ring when they are pulled up too fast. In the way the vines crawl every year up the chimney’s exterior, I want to follow the smoke from the flame that vanishes when you blow out a candle, I want to map the smoke’s journey and send you notes detailing such elusive and elegant migrations—a story coded in the old Ogham alphabet just for you, a tale that will keep you awake at night when I carve it into the stars. 


R i c h a r d   J .   O ’ B r i e n 

Desires of Late




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Issue 78

Variations on Absence

edited by Laura M. Kaminski






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