Visible Cities

Visible Cities

by Brad Liening


It’s a restless feeling

living in this little city.


It’s like working

a lavish dinner party


slash philanthropic

social function


and you’re weaving

through the crowd


in your white tuxedo

carrying a silver tray


of vodka gimlets

resting on a towel


draped over your arm

and underneath the tray


of brimming gimlets

and the towel


you’re holding a gun

and you’re waiting


for just the right moment

for your life,


your real one,

to begin




The dogcatcher

races into the room


and dives out

the window


followed by

a pack of dogs.


Economic ruin

births a dozen


Professor Emeriti

who gather


in the quad

like pale flowers.




A plane banks

into the sky’s


glowing coals,

the first


of a dozen

vanishing planes.


The street

far below


doesn’t change.

It crawls along


sinking deeper

into itself.


It hums songs

from the war.


It leads to

a water park.




The Museum

of Cowboys and Indians


is sponsored

by Coca-Cola.


It’s the Coca-Cola

Museum of Cowboys


and Indians and

it’s the site


of many first dates.

My grandparents


met there, in fact.

He was a weathered


Cowboy and she

a shy Indian princess.


Last week a bus

crashed into


the Museum.

There’s worried


talk about the death

of romance.




The Dean

at the University


is really drunk.

(She stashes


small bottles of rum

in her desk.)


She makes some decisions.

She thinks the pink hotel


is just a mirage.

She looks deep within


her porcupine heart.

There’s a cloud in there.




Sailing off,

the city receding


like a shoestring

that played


a small part

in a plot


on your life,

we drink in


the ocean spray

like it was champagne


and we were



In fact I have

no idea what


champagne tastes like

or how it’s made


or its correct



but I think

it’s like a door-


knob to a

dark cave.




Another dinosaur

flies by my window.


It’s my job

to stop them.


But secretly

I don’t want to.



the mayor


was caught up

and crushed


in a stampede

of herbivores.


His dark blood

ran through


the streets and

down the storm drains.


It’s hard to know

how to feel now


that we’re finally

on our own.


Brad Liening lives in Minneapolis, MN, and at Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Faded Out, Mannequin Haus, Nokturno, and elsewhere.

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