Dark at the Bottom
by Richard Spilman

They lie there waiting
      in the dark
              at the bottom of the stairs,

and you stop halfway,
      your fear penumbral
              like memory.

Too old for this, you curse
      the burnt out light.
              The thing you need

is only a step into the shadow.
      Still, it feels like
              going under.

You descend slowly,
      ready at a whisper
              to run,

find by touch what you need,
      clutch it in both hands
              and let the darkness

take you, like a child
      at pier’s end,
              after a long night

ablaze with summer storms,
      whispering as he dips his feet
              into the swells.

by Richard Spilman

The betta bristles at his image in
the mirror I hold to the glass.  
Bloodrush brightens those
brilliant ribbons of red and green.
Now and again he feints,
already so used to the curve
of the glass as to have lost
the savage instincts of freedom.
Even this show wearies him;
his pennants falter and, spent,
he sinks to the bottom to hang
dull above the snails like a wet leaf.



Richard Spilman is the author of a book of poetry, In the Night
, and of a chapbook, Suspension.  He was born and raised
in Normal, Illinois, and has since lived all over the country, coming
to rest for a while in Wichita, Kansas.

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 8, Number 2
(Fall 2013)

Copyright © 2013
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.

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