Scott Laudati



The eclipse is coming over the early dawn

of a fallen empire

while stars are revealed

through clouds at high noon

and the horses canter slowly

along an old barbed wire gate.

Their hoofs dig new constellations

into forgotten sand

as the hourglass drains faster

to zero

and behind the pastures of torn flags

bluffs crumble against the silent breeze.

We can see it from the north and the south.

But the trail goes cold where

the highway ends

and there’s a tide rising

the ancients know

will flood the valley.

New shrines will be etched by the current

that no prophets ever mentioned.

And as the last kid sinks under the surface

a flamingo will float by and drink

from its new backyard,

reaching its head from the water

toward the sky in a mighty gulp,

like it had always believed

in this new world.




Skinned Knees


Emmy doesn’t hurt here

like she did in the Poughkeepsie pool halls

when the boy she liked couldn’t wait

so he went for the easy kill

and her friend took the bait

and no one seemed to pay any price

when the sins were tallied up.

The rule book says scissor beats paper

but never rock,

and Emmy wasn’t always sure about love


her faith was enough.

She started as a kid with dirt in her cleats

and graduated to high school

before she skinned up her knees.

Even when the winters came

and the rivers iced up,

Emmy wasn’t like all of us,

she was never at her worst.


The Winnebago boys met us for wings

one of those frozen New Paltz nights.

They brought their guitars and a harmonica

but while they were tuning up

a pitcher broke and

somebody’s girlfriend took a fist to the floor.

The boys ducked out back

before the dust cleared

and we saw their Winnebago

skid down Main Street

just as the cops pulled in

and drew their guns on

everyone in the parking lot.

Conor Oberst bought them new shirts

and we watched them all on TV one night

in your new place.

Everyone was always running away,

but not you Emmy,

I could count on you to stay the same.


I remember the spring

and how the snows melted around

your broken town.

The rivers rose up and the

warblers headed north.

There was no sun in

your basement apartment

when the apples grew in the orchard

but even with all that dark

sleep was still tough,

so we started stealing your mom’s

Klonopin before lunch

and eating them for dessert.


You were always praying for Heaven

because life is Hell,

but our love wasn’t,

and God may have failed you

but the music will be better down below,

and you know all our friends will be there

so we’ll never have to

go home after last call.

We’ll finally have time to be ourselves

and no one will ever care that we spent

our whole lives

pretending to be everything else.

Emmy doesn’t hurt now.

Emmy doesn’t hurt now.

She stopped counting on the scales

to balance themselves.

BIO: Scott Laudati lives in New York with his grey parrot, Garrett. He is the author of Play The Devil (Bone Machine, Inc.) and Baby, Bring Back 1997 (Bottlecap Press). Visit him anywhere @ScottLaudati.

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