“Habitat Group for a Shooting Gallery:” Joseph Cornell, Des Moines Art Center
by Rustin Larson

You and your weapons and ammo don't get in.
You can stomp in the mudroom and cry
about how unfair it is. You can try to kick
the door or shoot the lock, but I can't hear you.
I'm too far away now. In this room the sky is endless.
The river runs glittering. Who am I anyway,
not even an atom, an empty place at the table,
something never born.

Once there was a place that was the dream.
It was no one's dream, and no one was dreaming it.
It was dreaming itself, populating itself
as it progressed. A snake with a man's face
and fire for hair set the whole village
and the surrounding forest ablaze. The snake
laughed delighted with how easy it was
to destroy the dream as it fluttered in smoke
and intense heat and sudden darkness.

I have an ephemeral body,
a balloon temporarily buoyant
in another room where I take you to see the Joseph
Cornell diorama box of parrots: that ink-splattered
section like blue blood from a surreal gunshot.
Greed and hate have not abducted you.
You are a high school kid, open to the wildness
of art in a world where there are all kinds
of people and it is OK. You are raised
on Sesame Street and graham crackers.
I think you have crossed the threshold
and are going to make it.
You hear the Minotaur screaming.

Illya's Honey Literary Journal

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