Proem Press


You wore a soldier’s uniform.
I took a wreath of skins.

We bloomed. Radium & sky
going down like your mouth

on mine. In my killing-dreams
every bullet was a kiss,

each house owned by thieves.
Imagine the stars are widows.

They live alone & drink early,
licked on occasion by a tongue

of cloud. The twelfth house
rules secrets when all you

have is trigger. Now the rain
reminds me. I was just a girl.

The night wrought a tent
between us. He made warnings

of love where none lived & you
were my savior, neither widow

nor wife. I was your apprentice,
taking up the rifle.



Rivers divide earth & fill the divide or more: On the plains
we must endure A secret surfacing, silt-truth thick in the mouth, flood:

Or locust time: Dry, nothing, God’s sky rising from the earth certain & desperate
Everything measured in the time the wind takes to blow it away

Grandmother went without speaking
the season she lost a baby & the stream’s rushing

Bled into the thrum of milk, breasts soldered in gauze:
A stained gingham unearthed at her death

That year, said a son, the greasy moon of his fingernail brief to the hem

Snow melted, water rose obliterating until shoots came
from the ground & life again, belly round by autumn:

Or: My aunt staring at the pattern of cracked earth
each morning: Went mad, waiting for a message to tell

How you face noon Go on in the wake of a husband
shipped out for Korea & the roof nearly blown from the house

Those years we had next to nothing, she said, tightening her fist down to zero

& hope broke away like a continent in my chest, daughter born
in a locust time: No sweet in my acid, except

The neighbor-girl’s legs were strong like a boy’s & deserved worship in denim—

The kiss she gave was like coming home after a long absence Going down
to the root cellar Discovering a way to breathe

When the temperature hits a hundred degrees::Desire::
became not a statue but cavern & damp

Constants revealed despite circumstance: delicate bone
of the collar, shudder of pleasure discovering that with the slightest stretch

All releases back into sleep, colors behind closed eyes,
dark & bitter coffee at dawn

& touch:

Each time we push a child like a stone through our body we suckle him
until the next season arrives with its news

Subjected to a world that forgets::We survive
because we don’t understand

Exactly what we’ve lost: the boys tied that butch neighbor-girl to a tree & beat her
until she lost an eye

My aunt locked the screen door against the officer who came bearing the news

Just before sleep, the next baby loosened his grip on grandmother’s arm—
Too much like death: Warnings are plenty::Or no message waits

Outside: a steady rain, or dust

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