Sam Willetts



Missionary girl reports that Chinese addicts say
your heart begs you to stay away
even while your legs are carrying you back.
After the merry little jitter of the filter

and the smack dancing in the spoon, after
the absorbed, childlike, assassin-like procedure —

citric, water, flame — I’ m back in the basement,
heartsick, digging for a vein in February

as in a February gone and a February
still to come, spitting prayers through the tourniquet


Warsaw, October: rose-madder by four,
the soldierly grey boulevards slippery

with tickets to winter. After forty years rebuilding,
the Old Town is like this beautiful girl I knew

whose face was wheel-broken in a crash,
and remade so well it was hard to say how

she looked wrong. I’ d brought two questions here —
holding them as if they might slip: who were

my mother’ s people? Where did they die?
In an attic-archive — deep card indexes, ink turned lilac