Papier-Mâché and Other Notions of Loss


                    Wire, plaster,
gauze: I am the small
          sycamore trees
in a model train
                    landscape. Papery,
appaloosa bark run over with ants,
                    two young boys—
beeswax and acrylic
          painted faces—kissing, pushing
                          up against my trunk, dead
          leaves dissolving
into my roots. One boy loses the other
             boy, like we lose all things
we crave: even the wood glue
                    crumbles eventually—
          autumn is inescapable. Actually, I am not
these trees—I have nicotine fingers,
              coffee breath,
                       your lavender body
wash caught in my sheets. Surrounded
          by litter, sundries, egret’s nest
                   of a Jackson Pollock—
I was not born to river and erode.


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Daniel Neff lives in Ann Arbor, MI, where Daniel is an MFA candidate in poetry at the Helen Zell Writers' Program at the University of Michigan and teaches with the InsideOut Art Literacy Project in Detroit. Daniel’s poetry has been published in Ninth Letter, Whiskey Island, and Pittsburgh Poetry Review, among others, and has won the 2016 Gwen Frostic Creative Writing Award in poetry and the Academy of American Poets Prize.