Get NiftyLit news & updates delivered directly to your inbox. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

Skip to main content


Kat Mulligan

By nine o’clock the sky has grown into its grimness,

its veins nuzzling up to rags of pewter gray

that clothe the night in conscience.

The half-baked moon is unsure of its Thursdayness,

unsure of its strange heat,

wary of its gimmicky stars,

but it hears in full thunder the mad-dog begging of the piano

trickling upwards,

scaling the buildings like rain.


I exhale on a gin-soured lip,

craving this blue lifetime.

If only beauty were a blanket,

a threadbare animal hide loomed over the ribs

of the universe.

I wish for beauty as an hour,

rather than dust scattered by curiosity

into uncharted corners.

The sun’s shallowest grotto.


On his break, the pianist holes up in the doorway with a cigarette,

and with my own vice I flee his gaze, like the lover

for whom the eyes are all too confessional.

He retreats up the stairs once the smoke elapses,

leaving this moment to its other moments,

and festoons the piano keys with a thousand woeful caresses.

Beauty, burnt out by night, hides from its already overfed infinity,

and tags along to the parlor.


Oh, how gentle the supplication—

a humble survival of hands.

Over a spine of ivory,

the pianist dishes out the whole sum of gorgeousness

allotted to this one evening time—

and howling, bending his head to the stature of prayer,

assumes its every sorrow.