Todd Heldt: 4 poems


This is someone else's

memory.  A bridge into

Constantinople. The woman

selling vegetables spread

on a blanket. The sun lights

the front of her dress except

the shadow that sits

like a child in her lap.

We can't belong

to one another more

than the sun that made us,

that shines down on the curves

and give shape to the earth.

How longing traverses

all distance and time.

Light playing games with the eye.

The cold asks a question

of the arms you wrap around yourself.

Someone calls you to come inside,

and worries you are slipping away.

You want an answer to offer her,

a reason as obvious as the moon.

But the sky tonight is built of small things,


no bigger than pinpricks, far away

and lying. All the cold can tell

is stillness trespassed by breath.


We broke into condemned buildings

scheduled for demolition

splashed walls with portraits and landscapes,

sculpted monuments and totems

out of junk that was left behind.

When everything was leveled

we stood on the sidewalk and called it

complete. We stared at ourselves

in the wreckage but did not

recognize each other yet.

Questions about the Modified Woman

 Is it seen like the sun

where metal is inserted?

Did she do it to feel

something more?

Is it kept like a key

in a pocket forgotten

but always found when she needs?

Did she choose it herself

or be chosen from this

palette of flamingos and oranges?

What colors were decided,

and how were they chosen,

whether longly considered

or picked straight from the wall?

How did she shape all her scars

still unseen, or was each

drawn by bones that were broken,

bad loves, and the father

she lost in his drip

of morphine? How can she offer

lumps of sugar in coffee

served in cracked milles-fleurs?

Is it deserved, her radiant sun,

insects that hum, and her book

that falls open to glossy

pages spread wide in an atlas?

Will she find herself

in her map’s silver center

where the metal bead marks

a new intersection

of who she was born and who

she became, the ink

in her skin, constellations?

Todd Heldt is a librarian in Chicago. His first collection of poetry, Card Tricks for the Starving, was published by Ghost Road Press. Other things written under various pseudonyms have appeared in print, on the internet, and on movie screens. Since becoming a father his biographical statement has less time to be interesting. His work has appeared recently in 2AM Muse, Anti-, Black Tongue Review, Blast Furnace, Chiron Review, The Ekphrastic Review, The Fear of Monkeys, Gyroscope Review, Modern Poetry Quarterly, Requiem, Rue Scribe, Sundress, ThreePenny Review.

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