Dennis James Sweeney

71°35′S 0°30′E

How Hank got his harpoon back from the sea. Whether blood stains ice. Just the sheer size of those creatures. The sheer -ness, as approached by lies.

The way the bear wriggled in its skin as it died, wanting to be as loose as us. The box of the sky. More weight than we could drag a half-mile.

Ice, not as slippery as you would think.

We hold our wounds dear, open them repeatedly, sell them for further wounds, trap the blood in cycles of sighing. Men, we keep calling ourselves, because I insist.

In wellness, we wait for the coming storm. Our rites of love and boredom circle each other, waving their leather whips.

66°12′S 136°11′E

Creation is a weather map. The background—studio lighting, an electrical hum—stretches wide, wide.

Mash your eyes with fingers and you can almost hear the anchors chatter about their home lives, the children who hate them, the clouds that won’t quit dancing around their pool dates and raising goosebumps on their skin. They are naked and the cameras show everything.

As night falls, the shot pans gradually away and we are only a green screen behind the news desk, a placeholder for the unsung attraction between Kelly and Lou.

We wait eagerly for their return. We long to show them the heavy mystery of their ignorance but the next day is a holiday, and the day after that.

Flat and cold, we wait.

None of the other inanimate objects know us. The stars, shining down from rails stretched across the ceiling, whisper further truths. But the microphones are tiny, tiny. Play the whispers back and they sound like waves licking a hunched pattern of rocks and the land, safe from the water, laughing.

Dennis James Sweeney’s Antarctica poems have appeared in Birdfeast, Elsewhere, Juked, LEVELER, Phantom, Poor Claudia’s Phenome series, Prelude, Requited, and Greying Ghost Press’s pamphlet series. Originally from Cincinnati, he has an MFA from Oregon State University and lives in Malta, where he’s the recipient of a Fulbright grant.