three poems – nate fisher

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Haunt

Nobody is loading a shotgun because
the hardware store has accused nobody
of illegal dumping. The cul de sac
is absent of a shape tearing beer cans
in half, a voice swaddled to empty lung
by a winter night,
nobody screaming
is this what you want is this what you want

The airedale terrier across the alley
no longer labors in breathing.
Most passerbys begin to wave back,
say to the new neighbor, once
there was a ghost here. For real.
I saw it there. And there.

The rumor is that nobody would sit motionless
in a black sedan overnight during the freeze,
open french doors in the morning as if
they were clearing brush from a trail,
and walk their knife around the block.

The mountain hemlock that lined the sidewalk
didn’t hurt nobody, but nobody blamed them anyway.
The houses shawled in yellows and pinks
didn’t hurt nobody, but nobody haunted them anyway.
The basement nobody lived in was a mausoleum
the size of a father. The good man who used to live
there was smothered in his sleep during the wildfires.

Some say he lives again, drinks iced tea while mowing,
always looks like he wants to apologize to strangers.
He rolls the garbage out, stands there, listens
to the neighbors walking up and down the stairs.

 

DIY Wishing Machine

Set aside several empty drawers,
so many of those little coffins,
a whole chest of them.
Unscrew a pair of cymbals from that drum kit
you never bothered learning to play.
The wiring won’t have to be up to code,
but blockade your front door before proceeding.

Fill drawers with those letters and photographs
you refuse to throw away. Contemplate
an eventual stillness for every hand
responsible for making them. Place
drawers stacked inside a dark closet
to let them breathe. Attach positive terminal
to top cymbal, negative to bottom.
Find a cassette recorder that hasn’t
been touched for at least twenty years,
and begin recording over whatever tape
is inside without reviewing it first.
Form a wired connection as follows:
cymbals to recorder to closet.

Lie flat, place head between two cymbals.
Concentrate on the most hidden of all things.
Invisible thing. Colorless thing. Allow
no harshness of the face. Raise your right hand,
and begin the first stroke of an autopsy.
Donate to a tax-deductible charity organization.
Raise your left and build a palace of mirrors.
Do not be alarmed if you hear the sound
of an engine turning over, or a quarry
full of dynamite. There, that point of light,
be distracted by it instead. Your memory
will snow. Watch your footing. One thing
and another are now colored things.

You can now allow yourself to be afraid.
Your liver is failing. Your children will
have a twenty-five percent chance of being born
with a rare congenital disorder. Nobody will ever
raise a toast to you again. Feel this sink in
and harden into the trunk of the body, you beautiful
son of a gun. Goddamn, you’re looking so fine,
you have any plans tonight, sweetness?

Do not turn yourself down or stand yourself up.
Politely reschedule if necessary. Raise
your left leg; make note of the prophecy
that arrives to mind later. Raise your right,
and ignore this instruction. Something’s here
or just beginning to hear. Thinking thing.
Wishing thing. Marry your genitals to beauty.
Keep in time with the lub-lub, lub-lub that now
heaves into the cymbals. Dwell here. Move everything
from your apartment into this space. Tidy up.

Wait for a shortness of breath, and then speak.

 

Speaking to the Lady of the Lake at the Koi Pond in Moscow City Park, Idaho (2:30 AM)

Moths can smell the kind of drunk that likes
to wander
through the baking streetlamps

and the figure rising from the water

says                                          lend me a mirror

i say                   no because you’re going to say
this is a dead mother thing
like every other dead mother
thing i fill drawers with: binoculars,
pocket magnifying glass from a sewing kit,
widowed spectacles; which, if you wear,
do feel removed somehow

says        let me initiate your sojourn
                                               or whatever it is
                                               you need women to do

i say                     i’m not looking for healing
i’m not going to try and heal you
no offense

says                none taken

i say                     my secrets are limited to
knowing the moths must be
cold tonight and
it’s slowing them down.

i’m
slowed down.

says you make jokes in the morning

i say                    yeah

says you’re very intent on staying out of that drawer

i say                   stranger things are happening

says tell me about it

and brushes her hair with a heron’s beak

i think about cold wings going colder
and my favorite doorways
the ones i had to stop in
to reach back, take the temperature
of the threshold

i say                  do you mind if i crash here

says i want to hear a joke in the morning

i say                  me too

and lean into my coat collar
drifting, but thinking
a moth walks into a bar
and can smell the wander on itself.

 

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 Nat(e) Fisher is a poet, musician, and educator from rural southern Illinois. He graduated with his MFA in Poetry from the University of Idaho-Moscow in 2016 and currently teaches at Southeastern Louisiana University.

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Photo: Wil Amani

three poems – rebecca kokitus

deer

sagittarius

the music of his teeth grinding
isn’t enough to lull me to sleep

there is a draft in the room, there is
a freedom in letting yourself shiver

I think your ghost would be a fever
leaving dew on my flesh

I keep picturing your parents
finding you

the guilt flickers on my eyelids
you told me you were so tired

I told you sleep
I told you sleep

I pray to whichever deity will
have me

pray to the goddesses you favor
to hold you to their breast

on Sylvia’s birthday you chose
rope over the kitchen stove

but your throat refused to collapse,
your neck contorted

like a waist
in a corset

your sigh pushed through
like fire, like dragon breath

 

die clean

I woke up this morning and
weighed one thirty-one (point seven)

I stand in the mirror, hair creeps
from the sides of my underwear

like ivy through a window,
cobwebbed skin

like a bruise you were
just starting to forget

blue veins spider-step
over hips and breast, threadbare

dead girl, no rigor mortis
I am still so, so soft

and pockmarked like a
plush moon in a picture book

she tells me “you’re beautiful
but you should probably eat something”

I say let this body feed on the
broad shoulders, spineless back

I know I’m normal, I know
I’m like everyone else—

I wash my mouth out in the mornings
and forget to at night

cut anyone open and find
only one heart, find yesterday’s shame

I am not an animal, I am
not otherworldly

I will repeat this until
it is true

 

future plans

I consider my future
the way a deer
considers the hunter

I’m so afraid of dying
that I’ll throw myself
through a windshield

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Rebecca Kokitus is a poet residing in the Philadelphia area. She has had poetry and prose published in various journals and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2018. Her poetry chapbook, Blue Bucolic is forthcoming from Thirty West Publishing House in 2019. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @rxbxcca_anna, and you can read more of her writing on her website: https://rebeccakokitus.wixsite.com/rebeccakokitus.

Photo: Sebastian Grochowicz

“die clean” is in reference to Thinner, a novel by Stephen King.