Nightstill By Steven Hill Bruised moon, imperfect crystal I am tied to the land where I am, and the land maws like a pit bull's jaw sucks from me through my feet. I am no plant converting sunlight effortlessly, I break the dirt with a hoe and want to own my own square piece, as any plant sprouting leaves. It is not perfect, my situation, or perhaps it is my expectation, or my explanations, my imperfections, or my description of the world, not Buddhist, not billionaire, not America First but mine. And now there is time for refinement and deep breaths, and what of that? Now I shall breathe shallow and always come up short, and what of that? And that, and that? Forced labor in China coal mines, that is that and hard to deny, and lethal to take deep breaths for the fine black soot petrifies bronchial tubes; the air is thick in Ferguson ghettos, in Rohingya temples and Berlin bordellos, among Emanuel AME Bible study death prayers, and there the short quick breath is life, the walls have ears, and that is that. The short, quick breath is love, is resuscitation, for who in love has time for long, deep inhales? There is so much to love, so much that requires constant spark. Fragile life withers and the plant needs water, the roof begs repair, the faucet leaks, the dull rock of entropy evaporates by what divine rule shall I choose? My child cries in the purple of the night, and off I go to comfort her: and when the child is once again asleep, bald head reflecting moonlight back to bed I crawl to the sound of my partner's hairy snores. At the edge of the bed and rapid eye dreams on my knees I pause and claim all my voices— none are silenced under the bruised moon, rising up as crystal dew through the straws of my legs voices dialogue back and forth, they find common ground for armistice and conditions "Silent night, holy night All is calm, all is bright..." and for a few deep breaths I love this terrible land, like the bombings in my body of Mariupol. Time appears as an imperfect crystal, a jagged silhouette rising in the nightstill sky. Moonlights, bouncing on the water, silhouette branches that drip like black fingers, that grip a hammer or a sickle, or a galaxy balanced sideways, for humans to comprehend.
 On June 17, 2015, white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine African Americans in the middle of an evening Bible study at the 200 year-old Emanuel AME (African Methodist Episcopal) Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
 The German language often smashes together two or more words to form a longer word that becomes a concept, such as freundschaftsbeziehunge, which means “bonds of friendship.” Nightstill is that quiet time in the middle of a sleepless night, when suddenly you feel content and whole in the knowledge of all things and your place in it. Yet you cannot corral that knowledge, and by the morning you remember almost nothing.
Steven Hill (www.Steven-Hill.com) is an author whose essays, articles and media interviews have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, The Atlantic, Wall Street Journal, The Nation, Guardian, Le Monde, NPR, PBS, BBC, C-SPAN, Democracy Now and many others. He has published short fiction, poems and plays in a number of publications, including Columbia Journal, Minnesota Review, San Fernando Poetry Journal, Struggle, Kinnikinnik, Sea-Town Crier, Written Arts, Prophetic Voices, and the anthologies Sparkle and Blink, Grasp the Rainbow, Poets for a Livable Planet, and Seattle Poets. His plays have been produced in New York City (Off Off Broadway) , Washington DC and San Francisco. He also paints, collages, and composes and plays music. He is a graduate of Yale University.