Issue 14

Poetry: Joe Hall

Pakistani Wedding – Ayssa & Murad, Larchmont, NY

A blue turn in the red stitching, a

bare foot sweeps across

the floor then

flexes when the air dilates, pulls

as if a sheet from a piano

‘I’ divides, will tangle, O

strung rose, chrysanthemum

rose, will water beside

the tomb to send

the body aloft—

In the International Journal of Bifurcation and Chaos:
She is Seeing Someone in Addition to You

After she raised her muzzle from my intestines
I felt like the slender feet of a songbird curled
Around a thorn on the brittle
Arc of a briar, singing
Cathedrals in evaporation
She was finally here—I didn’t need an inside
In the tongue colored snow
My heart and my clothes

This Fire Walks Under Water

Last night’s fire wakes up and walks under water, green and barely together

We tried to sop up the fire with rags

The rags just started bleeding in our hands like grapefruit halves

Everything we touched turned soft, turned to water, fled

We tried to make love in the sand in that absence but the absence was fire

In the morning, walking underwater, our bodies fled

We tried to live in a treehouse but it was walking under water

It was people in a broom, it was a passing

Love Monster

I do not find the dark fluid that fills the
Quills in your wrists and elbows disgusting
The metal cables that keep your heart suspended
And the inflamed circles where the cables exit
Your underarm—this is beautiful; I also find I want
The monster here, I feel like it knows
What it’s doing and that if I entered it
Or it entered me, we would live
In a burning, a glacier, or a tiny pine box
A quiet privacy
With only the good kind of mutilation

4th of July and I Didn’t Take Any Vicodin After Our Fight

Combing my hair for ticks or in a corner in a chair, crying, reading scholarship on love
Holding a roman candle upside down, screaming then

Laughing as the flares bounce off your feet while someone
Puts someone else’s genitals in her or his mouth in our bathroom then burning

Bad books, burning student papers, burning fireworks then running
I don’t care if you’re sick, I don’t care if

Your skin is ribbons, what you described you
Couldn’t take off—a hair shirt—What we threw

Into the fire doesn’t know if we can heal
Doesn’t know if heal means anything

The mid-tone explosions in the night over the neighboring corn fields
Cold ashes in the pit. I’ll die when you do

That dream of a horrible tree
With bark like spines, left in the air standing, snapping in half

Standing on a bench is how I did my Medicaid interview
You made a little nothing joke, a thing like you do

I laughed—I do not
Have leather seats or fifty dollars in my pocket or a fourth wall to lift or recreate

I can’t pay my medical bills as the flaring tides
Withdraw, recede from the basin of my body

And whatever the effervescing clots harden into
Golden seeds of the effluvium

Gaudy, wonderful nightmare this is
Walking around the green and black pond near my mother’s house

Noise of squirrels around their trees, cars driving
If the jelly of this eye is a pond that is green and black and deep

If we are swimming in polluted neon waters

At Purdue You’re Still Called a Secretary

I hatch the mini tree with American flags

Crown it with a blue star in July—Everyone

For thirty years thinks I don’t do anything but I do

The professors’ travel, I process their

Receipts: snow makes blobs on the window

Then the sun scorches it away—my knees

Feel like they’re filled with blisters

I’m sitting on a bench, drinking soda though a straw

At 7:50 am, February

Pink ribbon stamped with hearts threads the branches

I am fifty two, I work for eight professors, I go downstairs to

Get the mail, I go to the business office to file

Papers and talk—The tree is plastic and twelve

Years old—Half my life I worked

In this room, I got bigger, I got so big

My body filled with burning water

It was like I was pregnant again, pregnant

With some other furious, crying self

Gold leaves cut from foil

In October—The girls upstairs said

I didn’t do anything, I hated myself for it, I

Started doing less, my enjoyments became smaller

Cake from the good grocery store

In the main office’s parties

I was screaming for somebody, I was on the garage floor

Several sheets of drywall had fallen

On me, I was a little lady then—

One leg was

Twisted, the other numb

There was blood from my head

I thought “This Is It,” I prayed to God, I undressed

My little plastic Christmas tree

And here I am chewing lithium pills

To forget my legs— Frosted silver tinsel

String of white lights