Ethan Shantie

Always / Zyanya

Not a day or night without a train;
not a dream, either

       those lucid blues where I'm strung out,
       punching cardstock tickets because
       of course
       I wouldn't conduct -
awake or asleep
it's eighty degrees in the apartment in March
where it always snows on my
       the ground bare and brown
       by windows open and noxious
       and knocked up with sunlight
      shining down on Mother
who is just bones.
and alive or gleaming
every dickhead with a pen-prick screaming
global warming, see!

       She's melting.
Tell that! to the hand on the brakes
squealing on rusted tracks through
Edison, the hell mouth, through
Albany, the frigid capital, through
Potsdam, the home:
Ask him! if he's burning any
turning dry grass to tinder with the sparks
he throws: 
   on paths as blemished
       as ego
       in swamp water.
   not a day
   and certainly not a night without the howl of steel
on time and lagging:
a thinny sound across vast white plains,  
       across the industrial debutante reveal
       or down staircases made of champagne -
       rolling on down the tracks
        like skin worn against the flood
            they flayed you
Well tell 'em hello for me,
say everything is fine.
           you'll write the response
           and catalogue his trail in the margins of
                 unsorted -

Tell him!
           there's room upstairs between
           scraps of song lyrics,
           bites of diatribes you forgot
           amongst the rhythms built to keep
           current with stripped
If nothing else, then just break
his fucking fingers off -
     they're as brittle as bark
     and wet from grease.
Break every dial and lever
and hook while you're at it
but still that sound
tracing a path in fractured sleep from
     Newport News to Charlotte
     to the missing land of the
Because it's not for wanting to stop
it's that he's roots and rooted
from the brutal,
     scorched Earth
                                  (who is just bones)
     to his leathered
     He tried!
     he tried and probed through decades of
     sand and cicadas
     and when he came up for air, there was just enough dew
     to leave his lips dry.

I know it will come to port when it's
damn good and hoarse.
I will voice a dwindling summer stable
in my bedroom,
as at last he'll hold that brake before front porches
walled in by glass braced against wind
            and lye
and hear him call back:
            "Count your star gazing on
           both hands and find how
           often they were
           city lights.” 

Life of Pi in a Rundown Theater

No sweeter cadence
than her feet, softly
on centuries of floor boards
           or the creak of bed springs
           as she climbs in
lifting me from sleep
to ask if
           for her
I would make my body a canvas
           and I yaw            
           like leaves in the yard -

Ethan Shantie is a poet and musician living in Potsdam, NY. His work has previously been published in New York States of Mind Magazine and in the 2013 chapbook Poems for Danielle Steel's Purple Prose. He plays drums and yells in Sunflo'er (Magnetic Eye Records), and gets paid to talk with his dad on the radio.