Elegy with space to rent

Outside a young boy
Tries prying a snail from its shell
With a stick

And Iím listening to the sound of no one
Else breathing in this house, the clock
Moving on on its own, on its own.

The man next door passed away
From a broken heart.
Some believe the heart

Learns to outgrow its own shell
In search of a larger apartment.
They must have been thinking of me,

In my apartment, where this poem builds
Its nest of twigs and feathers,
Where it buries its eggs. Iíve left

Your name etched in the film
Of dust risen on our old television,
Your contribution to the history

Still living in this home, emptied
Of all but the promise of loss.
The boy outside is now splitting worms in half.

This is how we manufacture sadness.
How we prove the heart can exist
In two places at once.

Nathan McClain currently lives and works in Los Angeles. His poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Water~Stone Review, RHINO, Tar River Poetry, Barn Owl Review, and Pebble Lake Review. (

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761