Weekly Feature: Poetry at The Arts Fuse

Welcome to “Poetry at The Arts Fuse.” A new poem every Thursday.


In the Boroughs of the Nightmare


The moving chorus has new wings

             they flap through the night eyes closed.

Slipping through the stars unnoticed

             the night doesn’t move it just froze.


You feel like you’re going backwards

             so all you sing are the old songs.

Your mouth moves your feet aren’t tapping

             why do you think something went wrong?


I’m waving my hands high in the air

             so anyone can see me.

I scream at the top of my lungs

             eleven times I can’t breathe.


Wooden spoons bang frying pans

             trash cans are going through windows.

Cameras and microphones watching.

             Comb your hair before you pose.


Practice in front of a mirror

             so what you say will come out right.

Maybe no one is listening

             the photo may be black and white:


just like they were in the old days

             when it was hard to see your eyes

or the color of your hair

             when everyone was wearing a tie.


Ties on the streets ties on the beaches

             ties at the office and kitchen.

Top hats too no matter what

             the weather said you had to listen.


Women turned clotheslines to flagpoles

             they waved goodbye with big white teeth.

Smiling side saddle brand new bikes

             while your eyes were fixed on your seat.


I wonder what happened to my horse

             I know I know now I have a car.

Yes its time for that Sunday drive

             though I dare not go very far.


There’s a clearing under the moon

             I’ll try to find that’s all white.

It’s quiet enough to listen

             without having to have to fight.


What do you think you might have done?

             Would you throw your hands in the air?

It’s time to put my earplugs in

             and start pulling out my hair.


I wonder how things might have been

             if all of us had just stood still.

If we hadn’t kept on going

             I wouldn’t have to shoot to kill.


But you just had to ruin it

             for yourself and everyone else.

Although your hands were in the air

             unarmed, I took you from yourself.


Of course you’ll never be the same

             in many ways neither will we.

We’re the ones who didn’t want change

             for as far as our eyes wouldn’t see.


Many light bulbs ring the mirrors

             making us look so very bright.

The curtains are made of velvet

             when they close it is black as night.


There aren’t any stars in this show

             the cast and audience all bow

There’s not a sound and no applause

             we’re too busy mourning for now.


The good news is that it don’t stop

             the fires still burn inside and out.

We wish we could be cross-legged

             bring the noise without having to bout.


That worked for us a lot before

             we were so heavy to pick up.

We filled the jails and every church

             we closed our eyes you raised a cup.


When we left our stomachs were so warm

             we marched as if we were candles

then we sang we shall over come

             Gone were the locks and the handles.


Some don’t have rooms without a roof

             or anywhere but there to go.

Was it their idea to go over there

             did they jump or were they thrown?


It’s is late, late in the evening

             everyone is so damn tired.

The clocks will always be moving

             we continue to bide our time.


Kevin Gallagher is a poet, publisher, and political economist living in Greater Boston with his wife Kelly, their children Theo and Estelle, and Rexroth, the family German shepherd. Gallagher’s latest book is And Yet it Moves (MadHat, 2023). Recent books are The Wild Goose (Loom Press, 2022), Radio Plays (Dos Madres Press, 2019), and Loom (MadHat Press, 2016). Gallagher edits spoKe, a Boston-based annual of poetry and poetics and works as a Professor of Global Development Policy at Boston University.


Note: Hey poets! We seek submissions of excellent poetry from across the length and breadth of contemporary poetics. See submission guidelines here. The arbiter of the feature is the magazine’s poetry editor, John Mulrooney.

Arts Fuse editor Bill Marx

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