by Matthew Kilbane

Fears don’t disappear, as a rule.

Mine. Mine have always pried me or
seemed to, from the glue-trap of finitude

and so I’ve prized them—

my fear, for instance, of adults,
reasonless, deep-

seeped miscreant rip in the ego, ergo I wonder

what happens now in my 25th year
as I haltingly become one.

Fears don’t disappear—is there a law, some conservation

of grief? Until of late I imagined them
wholly converted to the passion I hurled

for years in one person’s direction. A young Levertov

wrote of familiar angels that were lately tears,
how we know them only fears transformed

and she convinced me. We are not always right

about what we think will save us —
those are your lines; I followed them

to that couch, that once, where I sat flooded

by a late summer shower musk
riding the blue of Sunday dusk through the screen

door of your living room—

as our Cleveland Browns recovered a fumble
on the flat screen, on mute—

where I might’ve been visibly shaking

as you, in red ink, trawled
my stack of poems. You pointed to this one

glum sonnet and asked

who the “you” was. I told you—of course, her
and under the title, to clarify

but as a nurse shouts clear!, or as a blade

is keen to clear a bone—you wrote
“for my lover”—you’re the kind of guy who says lover,

right? and before I could answer,

(and though,                          ,I was not)
Fuck yeah you are. Touchdown Browns.

The camera pans the ecstatic crowd:

a thousand open mouths
and their thousand vowels soundless and

seeking, as if feeling for

that difference, what last line there is,
between agony and awe—

but easing that silence

not at all.








Originally from Cleveland, OH and a graduate of Oberlin College and Purdue University’s MFA program, Matthew Kilbane is a PhD candidate at Cornell University. My poems have appeared in The Adroit Journal, DIAGRAM, the Best of the Net Anthology and elsewhere, and are the recipient of a Pushcart Prize nomination and Academy of American Poets Prize.


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