"Like" by Christopher Raley

It never comes like they say it does,

never sweet, never tender,

never cold, never dramatic;

like a Freudian, like a dragon,

like a light, like a ghost

or any other symbol

on the list of bad explanations;

never like anything you want,

never like a dream of soft flesh and never endings,

never like the conscious slips we make

after we’ve determined how we live;

never hard, never easy,

never clear, never muddy;

never any one thing we can say,

but always many things we can’t.


Clear day, mid-winter.

Cold wind blew up the ridge.

Hands in pockets,

I stared down at burnt ground.

It never comes like they say it does.