Ian Demsky

The Abraham Lincoln Clones

Ian Demsky

When I think of their histories,
each one bright as a mint-perfect nickel,

the image I get is pure Tarkovsky:
a convoy gliding through ill-lit tunnels
under some foreign capital.

I’m reminded of the work
of an American photographer whose name
I can no longer place, black & white

neutron-bombed streets, Akrons of streetlamps
and side view mirrors, naked on-ramps
under greywhite skies, but always
a sense of destination—

I hear they travel in identical black Escalades,
secreted each third of July
from military installations disguised as office parks
to the country’s waiting Wal-Marts

and whisked into specially built chambers
outfitted with a psychic version of the Fresnel lens
for their yearly day of service
as national tuning forks.

That famous face they share
once homebound again, shrinks
in the orange tunnel light
with the same drowned look
worn by their nearly identical drivers.

It’s easy to admit it’s a little sad.
Everything they know they learn from television.
They only see the sun through tinted glass.

To believe in them is folly.
To underestimate them is cliché.
To dream of their rescue is slightly sweet

in the way of people who quit
eating meat for a few weeks
when they get to feeling sorry
about killing animals.


Ian Demsky

Already the taxi of your esteem
salmoning back into traffic,
forgotten item on the floorboard
like an enormity sundered
from its own face or mind, cup-wise
falling back into the expenditure it took
to fix its curves—fixity
itself a kind of rear view: a word
of clay from the earth, a mumble of fire
appending virtue in glasseous glaze,
trucks, growling trucks to carry
the finished vessel to market
infused with what the scientists call
embodied energy.

Lost & Found

Ian Demsky

Police were dispatched to a report of a missing person.
The missing person was S.S., DOB 07/17/92.

The defendant claimed that he had bumped into S.S. at the mall
and that they had walked around and then sat down in the food court.

He was unwilling to tell the police what he and S.S. talked about.
The defendant claimed that he returned home and did not know
where S.S. went or how she was getting home.
He denied any dating relationship with her.

When asked about the telephone call earlier, he acknowledged
that he had spoken with her for about an hour.
He had informed her that he would be at the mall but claimed
they did not have plans to meet.

The defendant was unwilling to offer information
unless asked direct specific questions. He kept repeating
that he did not know where S.S. was.
He denied knowing anything about her disability.

S.S was recently informed by her school
that she will never be able to live independently
or function on her own. S.S. told her father
she wanted to prove she is capable of being independent.

Police contacted mall security and located video footage
of the defendant and S.S. holding hands.
S.S. was found the next morning at a transit bus station in Parkland.

When S.S. was interviewed by police, she indicated
she met the defendant four weeks prior on the bus
and had given him her phone number.

S.S. related that the defendant called her
the day after they met and asked her to be his girlfriend.
When they discussed the fact that he was 20 and she was 15,
he said he didn’t care, she looked 17.

The next week they met at the Tacoma Mall Transit Center and walked to his house.
While in his room, he put his finger in her vagina. (Count I)

Then they went out in the hallway. He asked her to perform oral sex on him.
He was standing up and she was on her knees. (Count II)

She told him she did not want to do it anymore and they returned to his bed.
They both had their pants off.
He was trying to put his “dick” in her vagina. (Count III)

He was unable to do so, and he had her flip over
onto her stomach and attempted intercourse from behind her.
This attempt also failed. (Count IV)

She claimed that the last time she saw him was at the mall.
He told her he was going home for five minutes
to get money to turn on his cell phone.

She waited about two hours for him to return, eventually going to a friend’s house.
She went to sleep and then went to catch a bus. She was found
by her aunt’s boyfriend at the Parkland Transit Center.


After the Fire

Ian Demsky

Clifford is telling me what happened.
I live on the second floor, he says.

I thought it was another false alarm.
We’ve had four or five this year.

I went out the back. Some of the people
were going up the hill to the store.

But then I looked up.
There was smoke coming from the window.

If I had known it was real, I wouldn’t have taken so long
to put on my shoes, to put out my cigarette.

It’s up there, I said to the firefighters. I pointed.
They said, “We know. We know.”

A man was trying to get the window open.
He was banging on the window real hard.  Then he went away.

You could hear thump, thump.  He was trying to beat out the fire.
Or maybe it was the firefighters trying to get in.

When he was banging on the window
you could see the red on his arm coming down. Blood.

You could hear him scream—
No you couldn’t hear him. It was silence.

That was on the seventh floor.
I live on the second.

Sometimes black guys come in and try to mess with the women.
They mess with the elevators, too.


Ian Demsky

We come again to the place of stones,
circled by torches, the getting heap.

Those who need a stone, its shape, hardness
or minerality, what it has to tell,

come here.  It’s only natural to want to take:
first one to shine with the oils

of your hands so it holds
on to some of the firelight,

then a barrowful to build your hearth,
our kind are stonetakers by birth.