Fleshed

The girl with a balloon tucked snug
under her fleece wants to birth clouds.
She devours her reflection
in the hockey rink Plexiglas.
We both ignore the game.
She caresses the small swell, smiles
as if this particular joy is unavoidable. As if fear
wasn’t about to drop, a bomb from the sky.

I converge on her like a murmuration
of starlings. Like bad luck.
Standing side by side, I see through me
to my son wheedling his way across the ice.
I close my eyes and try again.
Body, I say, where have you been? My body
a blue city in which no streetlamps are lit.
Suddenly there I am, no longer
the teeth of the river, but tenuous
as a kite string. How blood
shifts directions,
bends us into the geometry
of a new flesh, the feel
like an oversized raincoat.

It is not quite winter but it is bone-cold.
Trees stand naked. Unashamed. I envy
them. The blade of my tongue
has become dull as a moonless night
in the tender wilderness of my marriage.
The last time I went away I returned
missing an earring. Who knows what’s next.
Here is the secret: I spent all summer
thinking about myself. The conclusion?
I want in and out, like a cat. I want to come
again so I can leave again, searched for
like a hidden mouth
that wants feeding.

There is a new dress in my closet
waiting for a special occasion. Unworn
despite the tender wilderness
of my marriage. This is the wrong time.
This is about a girl. Like a magician
she pulls the balloon from under her North Face,
says, Look! Isn’t my baby beautiful?
then laughs. Her rapture could knock the planets
out of alignment. I admit, it’s beautiful.
This universe hiding inside a body.
Beautiful like decay is beautiful.
Beautiful like departure.
The starlings have obfuscated the sky.
It might be that this is the most beautiful
ending I’ve seen all day.

This is a reprint of work originally published in Fleshed.

Leigh Anne Hornfeldt, a Kentucky native, is the author of East Main Aviary, The Intimacy Archive, and Fleshed (forthcoming from Winged City Chapbooks, 2016). She is the editor at Two of Cups Press and a recipient of a grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women. In 2013 her poem “Laika” placed 2nd in The Argos Prize competition and in 2012 she received the Kudzu Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in journals such as Spry, Lunch Ticket, Foundling Review, and the Journal of Kentucky Studies.

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Letter to 7-Year-Old Son as I Watch Him Learn to Swim at the YMCA

Where does all this trust come from?
You couldn’t fall fast enough.
Trust me. There is a depth you do not know.
The lifeguard tells you 3 feet is as deep
as you can go without me. I know better.
I’ve read article after article. A parent turns
their head for a second. Disaster. My care
is flawed. Even now, I’m writing this
as you tread water in the shallow end.

I remember the day they handed you to me.
I strapped you in a borrowed car seat.
I thought, Madness. You were trusted to my hands
and I wondered at my capability,
something I hadn’t done in years. How ready I was
to drown in you. How sure I was
that if sucked under
you would bring me back –
gasping.

This is a reprint of work originally published in Fleshed.

Leigh Anne Hornfeldt, a Kentucky native, is the author of East Main Aviary, The Intimacy Archive, and Fleshed (forthcoming from Winged City Chapbooks, 2016). She is the editor at Two of Cups Press and a recipient of a grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women. In 2013 her poem “Laika” placed 2nd in The Argos Prize competition and in 2012 she received the Kudzu Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in journals such as Spry, Lunch Ticket, Foundling Review, and the Journal of Kentucky Studies.

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This Is Not a Drill

According to a dot on a map
WE ARE HERE. Purple-faced and panting,
no doorknobs to twist or keyholes
to slip through. Nothing works, especially
not our mouths. Everything
is black ice & sugar sapphires. A crow
watches the frenzy, enrapt. Please
don’t forget to panic. Stow
your baggage. Secure
your own mask before helping the person next
to you. Do you have insurance?
You should. This is not an extravagence.
There are rubber gloves
in all the drawers but none
your size. The following time zones
are on a two-hour delay. We’ll all stay
in these bodies until further notice.

This is a reprint of work originally published in Fleshed.

Leigh Anne Hornfeldt, a Kentucky native, is the author of East Main Aviary, The Intimacy Archive, and Fleshed (forthcoming from Winged City Chapbooks, 2016). She is the editor at Two of Cups Press and a recipient of a grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women. In 2013 her poem “Laika” placed 2nd in The Argos Prize competition and in 2012 she received the Kudzu Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in journals such as Spry, Lunch Ticket, Foundling Review, and the Journal of Kentucky Studies.

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Food Stamps

You definitely don’t want to be behind
the lady in line at the grocery store with
a handful of food stamps. She whips the
bright yellow envelope from an overloaded
purse, and you think to yourself, “Oh for
the love! This is going to take forever.” Or
maybe you’re the patient person who doesn’t
mind at all, the one whose patience we all
admire. But today, YOU are the person in
line with the bright yellow envelope. Today,
YOU are the person who has to sign each
certificate one by one as the cashier swipes
your food items past the scanner like some
type of magician. When something doesn’t
register she fingers the keyboard expertly like
a saxophonist, perfectly manicured fingernails.
One gallon of 1% low fat milk; one container
of peanut butter 16­18 ounces; one box of cereal
not to exceed 36 ounces. This is what it has come
to. Aisles so colorful. Shelves overflowing with
food and drink. The people behind you roll their
eyes and click their elegant heels. Today, YOU
are the asshole in line disputing the cost of a lime.

Nathan Prince has studied writing all over Illinois. He lives and works near Chicago. Creative work has appeared most recently in Subtle Fiction, Permafrost and Euphony. He was the featured poet for Contemporary American Voices in July 2012. A novel, Burning Gardens, will be available on Amazon in May. He believes in the unfathomable possibilities of creativity. Visit his website at http://nathanmprince.com/index.html.

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Reincarnation

after Louise Glück

It is terrible to survive,
this tidal swell of shot glasses, reflecting light.

Film of crushed pill, eyelash crust,
waking up on an autopsy table.

Victor Frankenstein’s pale hands,
hot breath on a stethoscope.

They say it’s a cry for help, a baby bird out of the nest.

The body a black stitch
coming loose,
inertia.

An impenetrable sea,
a dark cloth draped
over something moving.

Nothing stays buried.
They hint at the snake
swallowing his tail,
I’ve seen suns implode
like white ink
dripped into wine.

The world is colored paper
tearing itself to shreds
against the teeth of dogs.
We thought we were the dogs,
but we were wrong.

Black holes swallow the light
of neighboring stars,
trying to kill it, and failing.

Jay Sizemore hates when you call writing a hobby. His work has appeared here or there, mostly there. He’s had a lot of time to change his mind about everything. Currently, he lives in Nashville, TN, or does he even exist?

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Thirteen ways of looking at death

after Wallace Stevens

I.
People talk around death instead of about it,
like visitors to a hospital room
using small talk for a pillow
to smother the face of their fear,
ignoring the man on the bed,
his open mouth a cavern of whistling wind.

II.
Someone tied a Get Well Soon balloon
to the stiffened leg of a road kill,
its body bloated with the irony of death,
a deer never darting through the yellow blooms,
never pausing to chew
a mouthful of weeds,
never exhaling a plume of mist into the cold
from its wide black nostrils.

III.
If death is the face in the moon,
it’s because laughter is impossible
inside a vacuum.

IV.
An orgasm is the little death,
a moment when bliss
eclipses the senses,
putting the mind on another plane,
separate from this finite body.
The tragedy is the return.

V.
Each winter the trees expose
their skeletal hands,
decrepit fingers probing
the bluest of wombs.
Death is the gray sky.

VI.
The apple is born from dirt,
raised, and then returned.
The worm eats the apple,
the bird eats the worm,
the sky eats the bird.
All things are agents of death.

VII.
Death wears all reflections.
Death wears every shadow.
This skin is a mask,
worn over everything,
an imperceptible wind
bringing gooseflesh to the spine.

VIII.
A coffin lid closes
every second,
but for some, death is the torture
of living another day.

IX.
The knight plays chess with Death.
The waves crash against the cliff.
His horse stands uneasy in the sand.

X.
Death is the raven resting
in the bare branches,
the first green knives of spring
still buried beneath snow and ice,
black eyes searching
for movement.

XI.
The bottle of bourbon is empty.
This body will soon empty itself
of heat.
Sleep is as close as you get to death
following breadcrumbs
back to daylight.

XII.
I ask my grandfather why he prays on his knees.
Death.

XIII.
Is the sky blue on the other side?
What is a sky?
The dead live on an orange peel,
in perpetual torsion,
faces inside out.
Death plays a violin
made of Mozart’s skin,
it’s the saddest music possible
and impossible to perceive
except as a grain of sand
trickling through the narrow glass.

Jay Sizemore hates when you call writing a hobby. His work has appeared here or there, mostly there. He’s had a lot of time to change his mind about everything. Currently, he lives in Nashville, TN, or does he even exist?

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Sitting on the back deck drinking a beer before the heat sets in

after James Wright

When no one walks down them,
the roads cease being roads.
Silent skins cleansed by rain,
still rivers.
Occasional tires hiss,
their grooves catching loose grit
in slow turns out of sight.

Soon I’ll sweat more than my bottle,
I’ll wish I was a shadow,
cooling everything I touch
like a damp rag.
Even the trees beyond the fenceline
seem defeated, boughs bent,
slumped shoulders used to taking a beating.

The color green struggles
to stay in its skin,
the blue of the sky pressing down,
trying to mix like paint
or ink rubbed under the eyes.
I give the rabbits names
so I won’t eat them.

Beer tastes like beer,
a wetness that somehow dries,
like swallowing dragon tears.
I could starve
waiting for winter,
but the neighbors would smell me
before the crows ate my eyes.

Jay Sizemore hates when you call writing a hobby. His work has appeared here or there, mostly there. He’s had a lot of time to change his mind about everything. Currently, he lives in Nashville, TN, or does he even exist?

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