The shadow

of a cragged tree stands


sharp and complete

across an old apartment building,


though my angle

of vision


blinds me

to the shadow’s tree.






A pigeon flies toward the cornice

of an old tenement building then


draws up short, startled by something

it finds where it was about to land


and it flaps in the air, in place, in

a flurry of disbelief; then it either


attacks or shoots away

but I don’t notice


because it sticks in my mind

as stuck in midair, in shock,


unable to square

with a truth


I can’t







The royal blue

deli awning, dripping


with rain, says:

Cold Sodas, Newspapers,


Sandwiches, Hot Coffee, Beer,

Play Lotto Here.


The cramped, over-lit, under-cleaned

deli itself


crunching these commonplaces

together in


the dark

reflection of


my deli-stocked







The acoustic guitar

hanging on the café wall


behind me

hangs halved in a mirror


on the far wall

before me, a mirror


in whose frame is tucked

a curled, faded photograph


of a smiling young woman, a mirror

crossed by cropped reflections


of staff and customers

coming and going


until it empties

in the night.


by Mark Belair

Mark Belair’s poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Alabama Literary Review, Atlanta Review, The Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Poetry East and The South Carolina Review. His latest collection is Watching Ourselves (Unsolicited Press, 2017). Previous collections include Breathing Room (Aldrich Press, 2015); Night Watch (Finishing Line Press, 2013); While We’re Waiting (Aldrich Press, 2013); and Walk With Me (Parallel Press of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2012). He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize multiple times. Please visit

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