Infidelities of Coal

The difference between 
saying What’s funny 
about having 
a reputation 
for doing things you 
regret at parties is 
and thinking first 
of confidantes 
beneath leaves, napping 
like gnats in the 
afternoon, swarming 
toward dusk, then of 
the smouldering, always 
approximating self, 
more hooked than 
awhirl, a thread 
of ash looking back 
at the crawling 
coal, and finally 
of regret itself 
resting with its wings 
tucked across 
its back like a 
closed pair of scissors, 
housed in the eye, 
glinting in the facets 
of the eye, is 
that our words 
outsmart us the way 
a diamond out- 
smarts a seam, 
a miner outsmarts 
a diamond, a boss 
outsmarts a miner, 
etc., and even 
if the diamond-cutter 
does sometimes 
grimace, there we are 
atop the fiancé’s 
finger wondering 
why, if our lives 
are so important, 
they should be 
so proscribed. 

I Don’t Know, but It’s My Job to Tell You

for my brother

With long hands and a sidewalk mind, 
while a mouse in a mound births 
beside a watchface, when it’s late 
so put it down, and to say so 
strips the air from adjoining rooms 
and calls on one’s countervailing sense 
of skin as the angel of skin, 
say nothing of the skies of death, 
their clouds, you are the size 
of a kidney bean, you have a heart. 


Lucas Bernhardt worked for a variety of mental health and social service organizations before earning MAs in English and Writing from Portland State University, as well as an MFA in Poetry Writing from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.  His poetry and criticism have appeared in journals such as VersoDrunken BoatAughtIodine, and elimae.  He was born in Fort Knox, Kentucky, and raised on the central coast of California.