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  You could have a big dipper   

What you mean when you say regret by Derek Berry

not the match head shaved bare

in failed attempts to light the signal fire

after the plane passes over the damned island

where you’ve survived the cruel innovations of wind,

specks of red sulfur & chlorate

mixing with the damp sand dunes.

no, not the sci-fi novel you abandoned

quarter-finished on the toilet tank, its heft

left to haunt you every time you brushed your teeth,

until the party during which your bathroom floods

& the book becomes an insufficient sponge,

its pages wet-shredded the same way

gossamer web can be snapped

by the weight of morning dew.

neither the nuclear-shaded soda or the gin

dancing together in a plastic unicorn cup

like two friends in love

who will not tell each other they’re in love.

imagine instead a city ransacked

of sugar, tequila, & kind men.

a fruit fly carrying home empty milk jugs.

the old winn dixie engulfed

in gratitude & disastersmoke.

no, regret’s not a corkscrew mysteriously

pierced through the skull of the man

in the hospital waiting room

the night you ambulance your friend away from a lonely heaven.

regret: the wound you refuse to stitch closed yourself.

the kitchen knife you steal from his bedside,

the blood you wash from the blade in the sink.


Derek Berry (they/them) is the Education Specialist at a Cold War Museum in South Carolina. They are also the author of a novel and two poetry chapbooks. They write book reviews for Free State Review. Twitter @derekberrywrite for tweets about not writing enough.

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