This is your assignment,


describe a distance between this newborn and


these dingy, bloodied bedsheets easing

one life out, one life in, when

just a boy and pregnant with despair


and petty crimes and grand intoxications

wraps a simple bedsheet around his neck,

a bedsheet not unlike the one


the boy and girl have stained and bloodied

in their astonished quick breaths

some night not long before the jail cell.


That’s old news now, like the boy’s

last troubled gasp, but there’s a story still

in the new breaths this baby dares to draw.




Author’s Note: (Previously published in Chronogram).




Kenneth Salzmann is a writer and poet who lives in Woodstock, NY, and Ajijic, Mexico. His poetry has appeared in Riverine: An Anthology of Hudson Valley Writers, Beloved on the Earth: 150 Poems of Grief and Gratitude, Rattle, The New Verse News, The Comstock Review, and elsewhere.

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