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"Life Is" • Jessica Pratt (by Brandon Forinash)


I feel no joyous song – the summer drought still on, the burnt-out lawns – 

it’s too damn hot to breathe – or then to sing?


Already the sun slips over the treetops; it is a terror,

the way the light seeps from the sky and when what remains

is only the heat, a thick summer heat pervasive in late July

as I sit on the front porch of our rented bungalow, choking 

a beer and sweating through my clothing.

We have spent the weekend packing your things

in the awkward company of your parents, now gone,

preceding you back to Dallas and with them the many

boxes of books and clothing, but also the living room rug,

the good dishes, the portrait of the martyr, all

of your things but also the index of our life together.

The year spent in our rented house in North Austin,

so late our happy seat.

I am certain your parents believe this is the end of us,

your mother’s disinterest, your father’s sympathetic smile.

Our happy street, tree-lined, the thick foliage,

a trick of perspective that from a distance the boughs 

form arches across the street and in the twilight

affects a tunnel on my thoughts, north and south.

How long now have I kept you here – when did it become me keeping you?


After all the afterwards, after all the long-legged nights, weary nights 

in the rough accord of other sometime somnambulists. 


That evening we find a corner at a bar we’d often been before, 

and against the current of the night, we sit close in together. We 

hold each other’s hand. Despite the music and the noise, 

we whisper. 

We swear to one another, this isn’t the end. Only an end.

Better days, we say, because we care enough to lie.

The night progresses, end over end, unheeding.

A little after two a.m. the closing of the street. Mounted police 


the exuberant and miserable alike, north and south, where they disperse, 

an exhalation of so much air and energy.

Miserable or not – exuberant, no –


we walk blocks back in the dark, never letting go.


And when what beckons is, again, the languid eventide’s command, to bed

or softer yet, please now, to bed, come now, love, to bed.


We had been young.  Now grown old, familiar. I kiss

the inseam of your hips, alike a thousand times before. 

I have loved you for years. 

My fingertips placed with such small pressures on your throat,

your head tilts back, your eyes close. 

I make small motions, intonations of all the times and every time 

I have had you like this. 

I feel you come. I watch your face straining through it.


Am I the witch that keeps you?

Pleasure waxes painfully and you begin to cry. You ask me 

to please not touch you, just for now.

You ask and I obey. You are godlike in your grief. 


I feel no joyous song 

and yet I sing

In 2011, Brandon Forinash received his MA from the University of Texas in Austin. Having left the dream-state of academia, he became a public school English teacher and Speech coach and ghosted the writing world entirely. He forgot about it entirely. And then one night during the pandemic he came across a moss-covered chamber, read the words on the sealing stone, and accidentally invoked an ancient spirit. Since then he's had some successes (Wigleaf, Necessary Fiction, JAKE, Sixfold) and is trying to make the most of the work while the spirit is willing.


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