Poems by Maja Lukic

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Red Sails

by Maja Lukic

From Canary Winter 2016-17

Maja lives in Manhattan, a few brisk and cold steps away from the East River.


The ocean is juicing into acid
but we swim its gold acrylic

for hours, for years. A sunset
spatters bloody chimeras & speaks

of a future to reckon: red sails
on the sea when the light drains,

a forgotten sailboat on the sea—
it’s the small boat my father had

named after me, years before the
wars that tossed us from shore.

The light bleeds out a little
sodalite glow & night swims in,

bobbing a plastic blood moon,
red rust of everything gone before.

It’s quiet. A salt grain glinting,
the eggshell glow of an eyeball

squinting in the black—all things
shimmer toward death in these waves,

going the way of honesty. Red sails
floating still, the sea is veined

all over & each wave or ripple
a sad soul bursting capillaries.


Swim & consider passage: when
the Great Dying slinks back for

its unfinished, it will be in the form
of winter density & sea butterflies

cracking into translucence—
but the melancholy pteropod

understood erasure before we did.
Consider the vague mythology

of distinction between dark & light
& then consider that twilight

is just the light stuttering out
a little lost humanity.


Is it life—is it the state of inhabiting a final body,
swimming perpetually in the red splay?

This sea is no place to wait for
the end but we knew that already

& now there is no other but the bank,
the forest, which is nowhere,

nothing but some anorexic
trees ghosting into other trees,

a million bristles standing up
& perplexing infinity at the end

of which is a blank space
& a dream sitting in a chair.

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