The Fallen by David Allen Sullivan






Off trail where there was no trail,

where your heart was an injured bird,

where you buried your love for

your first wife, and for her lover—

whom you almost loved because

she loved him—grateful their sex

was something that still sparked.

You’d never touched tremored ground

where big trees fell, but that night

in her cabin where she’d brought

her ranger friends for a potluck—

where the jokes didn’t include you,

or were on you. You all jumped up

from that hodgepodge of a meal

when thunder strike tore the night,

rumbled and splintered the near

woods. You rose, momentarily

united, and ran from the cabin.

You heard: That way! and all took off,

leaping bushes and dodging branches,

jumping fallen logs, racing

to be where dust was rising up

from what was down. The fallen still

creaked and coughed into the dark,

groaned like a downed elder, roots

were rock-egg-embracing snakes.

Your then wife pulled herself up

on rent tresses, stood on top

of what once stood above.

And when she reached down

she pulled—not you—but her new

lover up, and their hands held on

a smidge too long before they each

reached down for you and the others

to help mount that broken bridge.

You walked down to the crown,

got lost in the treehouse-like maze.

The branch you tight-roped out on

was riddled by woodpecker holes,

and when you stuck your finger in

an acorn shell that had already fed

the feathered or the cleverer,

you came away with a crawl of ants

that bit you red. It felt good to see

blood, good you weren’t yet dead.

David Allen Sullivan’s books include: Strong-Armed Angels, Every Seed of the Pomegranate, a book of co-translation with Abbas Kadhim from the Arabic of Iraqi Adnan Al-Sayegh, Bombs Have Not Breakfasted Yet, and Black Ice. Most recently, he won the Mary Ballard Chapbook poetry prize for Take Wing. He teaches at Cabrillo College, where he edits the Porter Gulch Review with his students, and lives in Santa Cruz with his family. His poetry website is:, a modern Chinese co-translation project is at:, and poetry about the paintings of Bosch and Bruegel is at: (Due date: Feb. 1st)

Image: CC BY-SA 3.0,

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