Blackbox manifold

Issue 15: Burgess Needle

You’re Still Gone

mars is as close

           as it will ever be

that would have excited you

           come out            come out

that dazzling smile

the fourth planet

           pink and plump

           a rare pearl up there

who else knows

i was not always faithful or good

where’s my right to ask

           may i sleep now

with mars in silent vigil

nine lunar cycles since you left

where’s my new love

so all may scold

my mantra used to do the trick

           sh’rim sh’rim sh’rim

just not working now

on and on i try

           and when from the bed

                  please don’t go away yet

i did sometimes stay longer

earning scant grace

allow this old mantra some power

how easy to become hospital educated

pulse/ox steady at 72/99

a few O2 generators

           pulsing out 15 liters along sinuous tubing

           to a hissing cannula so loud you

                  what            what

you kept asking

i miss you so much

           what              what

i said i miss you


All the Filled Empty Space

After i emptied your tall dresser of sweaters

night gowns and workout clothes there remained

one drawer of hairpins, scrunchies, reading glasses

pulse-oximeters, opera glasses, ribbons and bows

not to mention volunteer lanyards

that could not be given away

merely saved in some corner

where if i could there would have been

a discreet baggie of your epithelial cells

or better yet echo Donne and his flea

by inhaling those cells to have them become me

but the neighbor came and hauled the empty

piece away apparently leaving space

but a space with substance that jars me when

i walk through that invisible cube which fills

me with memories and images of you wearing

all that has been passed along to others

photographs used to rest on top now stacked

in another room that left behind residual

motes of people and places i detect

when i walk through an area once holding

a drawer with winter sweaters now on the bed

next to nightgowns from drawer four

oh i don’t want to dwell on this

mere material but memory links to senses

and scent, appearance and touch are not to

be scoffed at       filling

as they do

what should be empty space

Burgess Needle writes out of Tucson and is a former Peace Corps Volunteer. His work has appeared in: Concho River Review, Brittle Star (UK), Centrifugal Eye, Flutter, Raving Dove, Autumn Sky, Santa Fe Literary Review, Connotation Press and Iodine. His collection THAI COMIC BOOK, was published in 2013 by Big Table Publishing. He’s currently editing a journal he kept while teaching in Thailand, and also finishing a book length piece of creative non-fiction. Website: