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Tony Mancus

Natural Scenes Seen from a Distance

Heron bone, the tongue sticking out straight - rock sins the water to scare off the

fish, their scales and gut trappings. We’ve bent over across the country and

found our assets not applicable. Half way stairs. There. Something about friends

and patience and the way the sky comes down when it’s ready. Hail and fast.

The feeds developing like film, chemical and time. Not much to nod at in this thin


I am stitching the frayed pieces together in hopes. What weight there is between

whatever four letters. Letting off the gas a little when leaning into the next turn,

just a little. Lean. And you know what. It rains everywhere we’re looking, just not

when we’re looking for rain.

I want to explain many feelings and how they’ve come to be. I want to claim them

and know something. Waiting for a forest to arrive is like. Waiting for another turn

to speak. Waiting for the lines to draw themselves straight past their starting

points is like, Waiting to put the hook in the cheek. Hear a pull as it shifts across

the water.

What happens in trances. You say way. No. Half. Say you wake up the night

doors. Neighbors. They have only been shut but not locked and you expect a

body. A body next. You see the light come in from an untended window, how

often in night the worry sits like this. You draw it in. You pull it close. The page

does its dance. A piece of something slipped between dream and dear. Halving

logic for its circle that’s left you here.

To sit through the dark waiting for it. A shoe. Picks itself apart, spartan and

disassociative. The names we wear into. How friends who know us through time

decide to remain or don’t. What a decade peels, and better than that, the skin.

Here tongue it.

The clock done with its reporting, the mountains steep in their dreams, what

childhoods they’ve erased and streamed. I want apart the waters. I walk and

weigh my head in my hands, about the right side. One foreign melon. Motioned.

To bawl against the words and dust - the frame of each narrative stepped

through but only when entering a room, when only the walls can be razed.

Nothing interior.

I lean back in my chair like a principal, or a detective and the associations you

make with me now are colored largely by the screens you’ve witnessed people

play those positions on. Not the fabric itself, or the light and shadow plays atop it.

To become habit. To wear the wings and prayer. Be inside, the law says. No one

hall can bend to be more like light than light is, useless in the realm of the gods

and among what human worry. So the hard ends bonnie. The lads and lasses

curl to their cuts and moan.


from Heartbroker

Like someone who wants everything now. This is an imperative. New as the day.

An odd saying. Over and over it gets old. Like someone who wants, everything

now is an injunction. You will believe the next version of this person. How

fortunate we are to know something. Holes in the report, holes in all our hands.

To threaten a body, tell it what it wants.

I am considerate of running. I take my tempo up this hill and it bends to meet the

rise. We are justifying animals, too. Right/left/right. A question in the foot. A

hammer for the china closet. One of these things does not. Ask it to talk. Just ask

it. Like someone who makes a sail, or digs the water out from the holes. I am

beating fast now. The side of the highway. The bottom of the well.

The throat you open with is a hobby. This will comes to meetings. You have to let

it mean. Your hurt in all the sounds. Possessed by making or the fear inherent in

being owned. I am not property, this said throughout human ages. What makes a

porous thing - how any border becomes a definition.

Staging the birth of a raisin - you take your time, tie it up and let it dry. The dream

becomes whatever it means only when discussed. I can parse this one of several

ways. A serial input. The category--what a grape seed remembers. A once and

future vine. At rest on a trellis by the embankment, next to an above ground pool.

How to pull the past right through this eye. Big needle dripping wine.

Time to plant the forest.

Do it again.


The Past

you put on your favorite hangup mask and then pick up the phone

it’s still connected to a wire and to the wall

you put on your least numbered shirt and play the game where the wall is your face and you draw in

its eyes, they mirror you and dig back bad

it’s an hour where the clock looks funny but nobody’s laughing

you tell the dead lamp to glow, you shake it and your hand gets bright

there’s snow outside then there’s the quiet that makes the cars go numb

you put your favorite handkerchief over the top of the tea cup and let the jewelry flop in there

fish make kissing sounds on the glass and you can feel them breathing

you take the knife out of the drawer and put it in your purse and then forget your purse at the


no one counts to ten better, no one

tags tags tags tags tags tags tags tags - two more or whatever

you stare at the glass and stare at the glass and know its bending into you further but there’s nothing

to show for it

the ghost is afraid its going to come back

you don’t bother to whisper up the stairs, your hair crawls down your shoulders like a fountain and the

mystery of whatever wishes were tossed into its dark grasp

coins for eyes, for the sum of the ships found again, foes in their little windows, rowing

you open the door to fin, to the end


from Heartbroker

bah bum buh chick, bah bum buh chick. bang on the can lid. I make the sound of

a wave receding and learn the word for that pause before it does so. I forget. You

order a new pair of clowns for the jury, the judge matches his skin to the wall and

he forgets how many bullets it takes to kill a person. Usually a small number.

Infringement. Disorder. The capillary press. I feel the suck in of breath as a

sound, a warning something has gone the way it can go, and a pause before

what comes out. No voice now. You send the clowns delivery to a different

address. Sleep on the sofa, it’s bad for the banner. We seek ads for when

everything can be brought up on charges, but those charges are only afraid for

who gets them. No is a consequence. No sir. No thank you.

Here this bag of stone, here a cricket saw, a claw from a crayfish, the log to jump

from into a hole filled with water 20 feet or something more. Thin nature into its

slivers. Here a roadsign for Shoneys gone dust and disuse, a boy wearing a

confederate flag for a hat, the fear boned into a few dayswimmers at what would

happen. When not if. The world we share and don’t.

I am putting another basket full of eggs in front of you. I am asking them to talk,

tell me a story little round, make the news, change the channel, buy the fabric

softener and color the walls with your insides. I don’t expect reason, I don’t

inspect the cracks and delays, just notice how time changes. A catalogue.


Tony Mancus is the author of a handful of chapbooks, including Subject Position (Magnificent Field), City Country (Seattle Review), and Bye Sea (Tree Light Books). He lives with his wife Shannon and three yappy cats in Colorado and serves as chapbook editor for Barrelhouse.

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