Poetry Archive

“The Silo”

Silo number nine looked like the Tin Man’s head, bearded with the shed that bristles

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The fog clung to the roof like a laurel, wreathed with six dollars more the next Friday.

Walking down the corn was a grown man’s job, and

Your brother’s thin ribs could use the padding. Yours too,

If you were careless enough to look down.

 

Hunched beneath the corrugated roof, nostrils stuffed up with the

Sweet stickiness of rotting corn crisped into milky sours,

You and your brother tossed picks by their worn handles into the sleeping mounds

Pitching them back to each other like boomerangs.

 

Grain shuddered, the silo groaned

The crusted patches beneath your feet

Ripped. Dropped you.

Shackled you to the triangled gridlock.

Your screams bounced off the sides of the silo

Gulped back by mechanical shushings of grain

Funneling into truck beds.

 

They didn’t tell you there were harnesses in the storage shed.

They didn’t tell you a body can drown in a solid.

They didn’t tell you how fast the mountain would swallow him.

 

You had to hug your brother’s body, or the rescue squad couldn’t jam

The grain tube around your shoulders. Couldn’t haul you out.

Six hours, and all you wanted was them to

Shove the plastic bucket over your head again so you couldn’t see

The pits in his face from kernels biting.

 

You’d think five hundred fifty thousand

Would be enough to pay for a headstone.

Hell, you’d think the two hundred grand would be enough for something

Better than those cockeyed red flowers you jabbed into his grave. Damn things

Flutter too much, thrash like his hand above the grain line.

He never got to make varsity.

 

At home your mother drags her fingers through popcorn kernels,

Listens to their dry rustle as they slip against each other.

Those men with soft hands tell you Haasbaech is closing,

Tell you that they’re educating workers, increasing safety awareness, and that they

Have mailed very strong letters.

Your mother’s room is littered with picket signs and sleeping pills.

You went to work the next week anyway.

______________________________________________

Alexandra Villamore is an undergraduate at UC Riverside.

“Kitchenette”

Missing you is easy when

The rim of my red plastic bowl

Chips gawkish fractures into the egg in my palm.

Maybe I miss the porcelain bowls you picked out

when I was seven. Maybe Inland Empire

Eggshells just crumple easier into my bowl-bound

Flour hills than I’m used to.

 

In summer I knew to clear out from the kitchen when you pulled

Our sputtering handmixer out from the cupboards.

You’d stand in the frame of the open window,

Dig measuring spoons into canisters.

You wouldn’t let me help.

 

Sometimes, here, I forget that the bottom rack roosts

Too close to the scorching curves of my oven coils.

This faded, butter-splattered recipe card, looped with your handwriting,

Promised me perfection in ten minutes. I pulled these charred lumps at eight.

They hiss in the trash can, spit singed sugar at my flimsy oven mitt.

 

You never baked in the first apartment. You were never in the mood.

Maybe the kitchen was too small to fit us both, to fit our hissing and

Raw silence. But now, though your new china nests among new cupboards,

I can only tiptoe back to memories when your churning spatula paused,

When you smiled at me.

 

My apartment is littered with boxes of craft projects and pictures and

Packs of books – anything you didn’t want room for.

Fledglings are pushed out of the nest with less, but I wish you’d at least

Sent me flapping with directions for meatloaf or

A roll of quarters for my mushrooming laundry basket.

 

When I was seventeen and wanted to prove I could make the better fudge,

I scorched the pot. Smooth chocolate wisped with marshmallow

Stuttered into clunky pebbles. You tried to rescue it for me. I just

Hovered, hands knotted in the same shapes my stomach forges when I think of

Calling you to ask if I can come home.

 

The slab of fluorescent lights above my head stays off. You preferred

Incandescents anyway. My hair sidles out of the clip I stole from you, frizzes

To the flipped rhythms of your old saxophone music. My hip clicks and these thirty-six

Sugar cookie pills aren’t worth the dish soap I’ll need to scrub up.

But they’re mine.

______________________________________________

Alexandra Villamore is an undergraduate at UC Riverside.

“I Was Afraid Of Dying”

After James Wright

 

Now,

at twilight, the grasses in the field are green enough

to smell.

White-tailed jackrabbits dodging to the tree line.

Their skittish ears remind us we are not alone.

Hiding in the shadows of fallen-branch shelters,

they are the most patient.

Perhaps now they fold their narrow ears down

because they know we are here.

When I die, hide me

in a bed of upturned oak leaves and the softest dirt

you can find.

 

______________________________________________

Taylor Collier lives in Syracuse, NY. Work is forthcoming or has recently appeared in The American Poetry Journal, Blue Mesa Review, DIAGRAM, the minnesota review, Southern Indiana Review, Washington Square, and Yemassee.

“Domestic Still Life”

We heard only

the shudder of a jet

approaching louder,

but it could have been

the end of the world,

and it wouldn’t have

mattered. I was in

the kitchen, washing

dishes, soaring through

the window, the light

that brilliance right

before the mist takes

over, speakers sounding

a kind of blue almost

remembered. You were

here but not, close

enough where I could

turn my head to see

you somewhere

else. No dog clattered

worn tags on the linoleum

floor, a swell of

piano and engine

converging at

the exact moment

where my hands slipped

under filmy water, the crash

of glass on enamel

so much quieter

than I ever imagined.

______________________________________________

Marci Vogel attends USC’s PhD Program in Literature and Creative Writing as a Provost Fellow. Her work has been published in FIELDPuerto del Sol, ZYZZYVA, Anti-, and the Seneca, Colorado, and Atlas reviews.

“Wolf Creek”

The creek-bed is littered with salt

and silt and chicken wire.

At one time, the cattle could stand

 

on their own. The fencing rust-eaten

but still thick with heat.

You stayed with the children

 

until they fell asleep. I tried

to explain how the carpet caught fire

in the Polaroid you found

 

and where I got that necklace.

Red ants collapsed a black bird

on the front porch. We watched

 

each other undress, but took

separate showers. The dirt dried

to your ankles and arms

 

was your dirt. The idea to separate

was mine. Hunger makes the house

civil. Set the table. Wartime,

 

again. We saved the cooking fat

in a coffee tin so the soldiers

could use it for glycerin.

 

Out back, our single colt continues

to throw itself against its stall.

Thunderheads in the distant

 

ridge. In the hills, the holler farms.

Us still in bed, unable to ask

for more time and maybe.

______________________________________________

Eric Anderson‘s poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in American Letters & Commentary, Black Warrior Review, Columbia Poetry Review, The Journal and elsewhere. He lives in Iowa City where he is studying and teaching creative writing at The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

“Night-Goat”

I am interminably white.

I limp,

gasping and feathery,

into your last blueness.

I want

the adoration of flowers.

 

O tightly wrapped little things,

cheeky reds, delectable yellows,

how they close against me!

How do they know

my beauty’s all

glam glitter

over bone?

 

Listen, my live ones,

I glow for you.

I am your night-goat.

Feeding and fattening,

I trim your darkness,

hold back

the wild cosmos.

 

Darklings,

I plead.

Unfold your pretty

tight-petaled skirts,

and I will send

tongues of light

down your long pretty throats.

§

“SAMARKAND”

It is as if the old woman in the square

raised her hand to you, and I,

the devoted master, packed you off

to Samarkand, thinking you would be safe

from her influence. There is no Samarkand

in these parts, nor dark old women

known by other names. What you heard

was your own voice, or maybe your mother’s,

calling you back. As life left you,

did you find yourself in the trolley

to Niagara Falls, in your braided uniform,

or had you shrunk to a child

playing outside your father’s surgery?

I am left with shards of memory,

film forgotten in a camera,

a ten-year-old photo of you,

lit by June sun, on my mother’s porch.

Could you have known, in the instant

I flicked the shutter, that you were gazing

beyond your life, beyond Samarkand,

that the look directed into the hooded lens

I would not see again till you were gone?

§

“A Room in the Museum”

In Teotihuacán, we walk on sheets of glass, thick enough to sustain our heavy heels as we tread the sky of the model Aztec city beneath us, scaled and laid out like a blanket. Outside, there are ruins. In here, things are complete, and we arrive centuries too late to partake in rituals, to indulge in cacao and war. But I can reach you by way of this fading Avenue of the Dead, a long stretch of pretend gravel littered with moss and plastic Aztecs frozen in poses that suggest the coming of Quetzalcoatl. Most, with mouths agape, crouch, while some, with arrows poised, ready to break the surface of glass, resemble jaguars feeding. Others, still as the ruins, with paint across their brows, and rows of feathers down each arm are too afraid to even open their eyes.

§

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