KR OnlinePoetry

Relational Self Portrait

The universe has not been built to scale—
everything is bigger or smaller than
it seems: the sea, the hole, a ship, a sail,

your line, the hook, your heart—that’s where the nail
of desire drives deep. Sorrow can span
a universe that is not built to scale

even though rungs are strung from star to shell
and back. We end of course where we began
(that ship, that hole, that sea). And so we sail

full speed toward the iceberg—too fast to tell
if size or scale or course is plot or plan.
The universe will not be built to scale.

The dead in heaven, the living in hell,
blaze and burn in the blue of all that can
rise and fall. The ship of this life will sail

until its stern snaps beneath the stretched swell
at the end of the end. We find out then
the universe has not been built to scale
and that our want expands like wind not sail.

Dean Rader
Dean Rader's most recent books include Suture, collaborative poems with Simone Muench (Black Lawrence, 2017) and Self-Portrait as Wikipedia Entry (Copper Canyon, 2017). Along with Brian Clements and Alexandra Teague, he edited the forthcoming anthology Bullets Into Bells: Poets & Citizens Respond to Gun Violence (Beacon Press, 2017). He is a professor at the University of San Francisco.