about the author

Chris Haven teaches creative writing at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. Other poems from this series have appeared or are forthcoming in The Literary Review, Newfound, failbetter, interrupture, Zone 3, Hotel Amerika, Poet Lore, Sycamore Review, Spinning Jenny, Whiskey Island, and Seneca Review, where they were named winner of the Deborah Tall Lyric Essay Prize.

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Two Poems 

Chris Haven

Terrible Emmanuel and the Space Man

It’s in one of the books. Doesn’t matter which one. They’re all wrong. A man, in space. Lost. An accident of creation. Because these men were made of darkness and they knew it. It was a lesson, they said, one that slipped away. Because these men were made of emptiness and they knew it. There was never an explanation so the rabbis filled in. It’s a sign we are abandoned. It’s a sign we must rescue. The man in space has love with him or he doesn’t. He can be seen at night, taken as proof of whatever you like. He tells stories. Stories of home. Stories of their names. Stories that will save. Nothing in space dies, just drifts. As he floats by planets, he drags his knuckle in the dust. There must be a reason Emmanuel would let one go. It must be the stories. The planets are alive with them. Emmanuel is overjoyed: The man doesn’t matter. Let’s say he is writing. Let’s say he is out there alive, drifting. Let’s say some day there’s a rocket ship. Someday there will be. It lands. Imagine their joy. Such people. Those stories in the dust, they aren’t even true.

Terrible Emmanuel, Who Won’t Return

Nobody knows the date or the hour that this won’t happen. Emmanuel has chosen, and on this date—the day when his creation needs him most, will be most desperate for him to reveal himself to them again and save them—he will not return. Saying he will not return will cause them to think he will return, just as surely as a promise that he will, so he is silent. A mother reaches for the hand of her daughter. The daughter sings a song that has nothing to do with the hand of the mother. This song’s a call for rescue, as all songs are. Her breath moves past her lips. They must be moist for the right tone to pass, a grammar he created. Long after, she will remember the pattern on her dress as polka-dotted. If her mother saves the dress, the girl will find it years later and see her error. The pattern was smaller, less regular, only a dim reminder of the color remaining. The girl will have lost something, but will instead believe that something’s found. The moment will pass and she will, over time, grow less desperate.

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