There are words we should never speak aloud on earth, things we should spare one another. Who has been more hurtful than the living? Only the dead can still claim to contend. On earth, the things we should spare each other outnumber the names we have made for them, those which only the dead still claim. Resist shouting for sex, wagging your finger, wrongs that outnumber the names we have for them. But don’t believe that you’re too good or bad to welcome love in your hands at the right time. We are abandoned in the blank space that gives no thought to the bad or the good, since both are worse from life and its living. We’re all alone beneath some lonely sky: the words we need but cannot say aloud.

MICHAEL MARBERRY’s poetry has appeared in The New Republic, Sycamore Review, West Branch, Crab Orchard Review, Waxwing, and elsewhere. His work has received a Pushcart Prize and has been anthologized in Best of the Net and The Southern Poetry Anthology and is forthcoming in New Poetry from the Midwest. Originally from rural Tennessee, Michael currently lives in Michigan, where he serves as coordinator of the Poets-in-Print Reading Series. More of his work can be found at