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C.W. Blackwell

Wharf Lights

This evening starts without fanfare.
A sheet metal sky invents us in a

palette of gray-blues and muted greens
as if we inhabit rooms full of cigar smoke.

Couples on benches sit stenciled against
the bay, their stillness is a photograph

mounted and hung in a glass frame.
The wind blows half-smoked cigarettes

between the wharf boards, a woman
catches them, stumbling in the tide—

her eyes have no color, teeth like
faded tungsten. Even the lit cherry

flares like a scene in a Billy Wilder flick:
a hot and colorless fleck in the shadows.

The scene turns. Now wharf lights go
flickering down the platform in a panoply

of blue electric arcs. Sea lions bark in
the cross-piles and octopuses whipsaw

from their depths. Our eyes blink in
sapphire codes, the lights invent us anew.

It is what we’ve been longing for: to
wake in bluish colors and drink and

laugh and screw in that neo-noir glow
beneath a blanket in the still-warm sand.


C.W. Blackwell is an American crime fiction author and poet. His poetry has recently appeared in Anti-Heroin Chic, Versification, The Five-Two, Punk Noir, and Dead Fern Press. His upcoming poetry collection, River Street Rhapsody, will appear in Spring 2022 from Dead Fern Press.


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