Antonyms for Reticence

Having breathed the invisible glass
having forfeited my gas mask, last chance
before the sea levels everything
in its way—killing it with contrast

To cough up an excuse, a vow, a word for how
eyes are still the vulnerable vowels
through which slip a soul: sound fury burning salt and me
not getting any of it down: the un-crying shame

Of a beached whale bathed in wailing gulls,
little Sally selling seashells by the sea-corpse
in the dream I lost my voice
screaming Has anyone seen this pearl?

Lines cast out from tired poems and tied to lime
stones too fragile to make a dent
in anything, get wasted on this window,
shattered on that heart.

If broken, call me a liar. If bleeding, call me Ishmael.
If god’s blade dulls, if gunmetal blue rivers
never lap crimson forth, would not even Moses slit his
to prove the Nile sentient?

Where is the grain of truth in these fool’s gold waves—
these days that find you waiting on the Furies
to sweep down and disperse
your silver lining into acid-black dusk?

When they come you set the island on fire
with your glory-torch: a fist-full of words
my photo cloned and posted
all across the flaming hillside—I saw it

With my own eyes, and only my own eyes
know how many oil spills I counted on
that quiet drive, which, because circle, felt endless.
Feelings are toxic or they’re nothing

And I’m banking on the former and I’m drowning
on the shore. If some secrets aren’t lies
if confessions can be true
I’d slay I’d for you.

Adrian Silbernagel‘s work has been published in The Columbia ReviewRufous City ReviewPainted Bride Quarterly, Fruita Pulp, Two Hawks Quarterly, and elsewhere. Visit his website: