On horseback or mixing math with philosophy,
her skin is tired,
she is nervous, a never-ending boy,
the kind with soundproof eyes that echo
the faint hymn hers persuades the hand toward
you with. Prick goes the fingertip,
when she knocks more dents
with a ball peen hammer into the sides of your soul.
You know that the punctured effect is only so that
God can grasp you better
when your feet leave the ground,
you fall in love,
holding hard to the slim slack jaw
of his readymade arms, and brother,
you’re all his, dinners out and love in the loft,
lots of milked black coffee, croissants, hair cuttings,
cancelled appointments, and cruising stars
for their place on the ship’s bow,
leaning into backdrafts just to glow with
a silk tongue along the slip of your underbelly.
You are deadline. You are at most old fashioned.
You are the tall wheat grass of commercial voids.
You turn center of the root cellar’s dark damp moist.
And I linger here, like lingering is everywhere,
taking in the burnt-out air, sucking spring
from her allergens that would have me
for her very savior, should she feel the knee
of missing a place in the chorus line lifting
a dress to reveal the shapes
of my opinion exposing her.
The fear of hope is also beautiful as we tread along
to find several sharks swimming in place.
To combat the brutality of eyes
that take these sights in,
why don’t you tug at the knots
of your wrist with your teeth
and say amen to all of the above,
draw the shades and lean below the waist,
wrapped in cloudless curtains
where we will bathe in the salts of an iron water,
swollen awake with all that hurts us.


AMY KING View All →

Amy King is the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) Award. Her latest collection, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. She co-edited with Heidi Lynn Staples the anthology Big Energy Poets of the Anthropocene: When Ecopoets Think Climate Change. She also co-edits the anthology series, Bettering American Poetry, and is a professor of creative writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.

4 Comments Leave a comment

  1. “I be damn,” as we say. You haven’t lost any of your power to dazzle and amaze, Amy King.

    I love the ball peen hammer, “brother,” and the hair cuttings. Real life, however we might gawk at it, seen through the corner of your observant, loving, amused eye(s). And I love the poem’s slipperiness: it pretends to be coercible into straight lines and then whips away into ovals and figure-eights.



  2. Great poem! A keeper.

    I at first thought “backdraft” was a sailing term — maybe what might happen should you be tacked close to the wind and the wind suddenly shifts to be coming over the lee bow. But

    “A backdraft is a situation which can occur when a fire is starved of oxygen; consequently combustion ceases but the fuel gases and smoke remain at high temperature. If oxygen is re-introduced to the fire, eg. by opening a door to a closed room, combustion can restart often resulting in an explosive effect as the gases heat and expand (see also flashover).”

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