Size / / /

Intricate whorls and loops
like the flight
of summering buzzards
who swoop through the hollows
and hover over ridges
to capture updrafts

Induced to have faith
in each curious print curving
unique as the Buddha's
identifying our flesh
a nomenclature of memories
tracery of dreams

Invented by bureaucracies
intent on convincing
the milling masses
to build straight highways
and hurtle headlong
down each slick & proper lane

Investigators conspire
to bar us from shadows
steer clear of sinuous alleyways
and sins of meandering
for they pretend to recognize
the spirit under the skin

In the police station
the officer whispered of inks
and paper and durability
how the old fingerprints
had already faded
out of the files

I like to imagine
prints on their own at last
wandering the dark paths
wistful or blissful
remembering their owners
who also disintegrate to dust


Copyright © 2003 Jacie Ragan

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Winner of The Lyric Memorial Award, Byline's annual poetry contest, Mississippi Valley Poetry Contest, etc., Jacie Ragan writes from the Missouri backwoods where she likes to bake bread in her wood cookstove. Her most recent chapbook is Deadly Nightshade, published by Flesh & Blood Press.

Bio to come.
Current Issue
24 Jan 2022

Piece of my essence, accept my sorry.
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By: Katy Bond
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Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
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In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents the poetry of the 24 January issue.
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