Poetry by Ryan Dzelzkalns

When the Leaves are Gone, There’s No Place for a Crow to Hide


The sky becomes a river as
they lift from Elliot Park
suddenly denuded,
into Lakewood Cemetery,
a dark refoliation,
    it’s headstones
grackled and flighty.

Any group of animals
looks in all directions at once.

Minneapolis makes a gift of its garbage
and is blessed by a murder
that fills the sky,
a host of angels
who can be seen against the snow.

If someone must look after our sins,
they may as well have wings.

Sooner or later
they’ll see how we hate ourselves
and what we do about it.




Raven Cage



—from the center of the tree, a feather moved.

Where you going Little Monster?
Why all alone?
An eye opened, a
blacker center than the moon.
What’s the rush?

I kept walking. Leave me alone.
The wind stopped, the fallen
leaves stood up to listen.

It doesn’t work that way.

I know how this works.
                        What do you want?

I came to warn you.

Pocketing my hands, I glanced at my
shadow passing under the streetlight.

This place will fill with winter and so will you.



Godzilla, Emergency


In winter, this is his favorite documentary.
From now on, the sun will stop setting.
He has been up all night, curled
around the laptop screen.

Making my way in this formidable world
is a bit frightening. The water so clear

it makes me dizzy. It’s an
expedition to the Pole of Isolation,
the nearest islands 1,008 km away.

In the Middle Ages sailors feared this sea of darkness
where they risked reaching the edge and falling over.

Ellesmere,    Komsomelets,    Genriyetta.

We continue like arctic manta rays
sliding through the void.
pierces the ice; his ceiling tints lighter.

Godzilla hasn’t spoken to his parents
in over 10 weeks. Sometimes that happens
in winter. He starts seeing someone new
and gets afraid his mother will ask,

“what do we like about him?”        or
“wait, what happened to Tyler?”
                                                          The packs
and crests seem to tumble over each other
                like a ballet of petrified giants.

He yawns, releasing a flurry of bubbles.
He watches as they rise, skitter along
the geometric underside of the ice.
Here we have clearly fallen into another world.

Sometimes he spends all night
on the bottom of Lake Calhoun

to watch the first light trickle
through its meager shell.

The water thinks it can hide
from the sun. The ice is melting. The dangerous
rectilinear forms have disappeared. He likes to see
just how wrong the water is.

It’s the beginning of the end
and all too soon.
                                    It’s not that he avoids his family;
it’s just that sometimes he hates himself
when he’s around them.
He puts his pants on,
grabs his jacket. It will be much colder on the surface.

Tell them we can hear the cracking
at night now. We can feel the jolts through our
mattresses and sleeping bags.
At night

he likes the pressure holding him
together. The atmospheres of water prop him up.
It’s like an earthquake.
                                                       There’s a loud
cracking noise, as if the tension
is being released all of a sudden.
He walks along the bottom, kicking up

billows of silt. He crawls
when he can no longer stand.

It’s breaking up—
               when he’s at the very edge, he
braces his shoulders
—be quiet and listen;
it’s incredible—
              and lifts his way out
—the pack ahead of us is starting to rise.

He steps into the morning,
his silhouette broken by steam.



Once We Outgrow Death


Seasons become very interesting.

The edges of our cities look out.

We pull down forests to watch them rush

back. Snow drifts prickle across the field.

Ocean eating cliff. No more looking up—

the whiplash of stars makes us sick.


Ryan Dzelzkalns is a Midwestern boy at heart. He has work appearing or forthcoming with Assaracus, the HIV Here and Now Project, Midwestern Gothic, Narrative, Revolver, and others. He recently received an MFA from NYU and now works for the Academy of American Poets. He is the tallest man in New York.

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