Ghazhal with downtown & sunlight


My building reflected in the next one as we come out 

into the sun. Walking away, hours I'll never get back. 

In walls, winch & grumble of cables, doors open 

& closing. A freight truck passes in many high panes 

of glass. Losses I planned to stay ahead of piled up, 

in the rush, passengers stepping on or off. 

Wall of what was or was not said, like train after train

a stillness got into me. Hurricanes picking up speed, 

summer becoming what kind of longer, thousands 

fleeing the equator into the eye of a wall. Can that  

be how we want it to end? Still fall flowers 

riot near my father's house in hills. Sun butter 

in a late window. Doors closing like hours of sleep.

Like ending with asking. Whose side is time on?


Dan Alter’s poems and reviews have been published in journals including Field, Fourteen Hills, Pank, and Zyzzyva; his first collection “My Little Book of Exiles” won the Poetry Prize for the 2022 Anne and Robert Cowan Writer’s Awards. He lives with his wife and daughter in Berkeley and makes his living as an IBEW electrician. You can find him at