Murder Ballads

We take our hands from our clean, pressed shirts,
wrap them around a neck
and squeeze until the strings sing
to us. We need to bury our love
in shallow beds, lie down deep
beneath the ground, put a shotgun
to the temple of our grief.

It’s our small flash of grace
that even as a crippling wind
moves the fields we walk through,
we bend a story with that same breath,
call out the secret
words for everything as we name them:
my mouth is a grave,
my tongue a tree split by lightning, a tuning fork,
and death is not a harvest waltz,
a scepter keeping perfect time
with a waxing moon,
but a flat-footed shuffle,
drunken and uneven, you can’t help but follow
across the floor, a caller laying bare
the steps to a dance your body’s been trying
to unlearn since you could walk,
cooing to a packed room, “There is nothing
to this. Just move your feet.”

Shenan Hahn is a writer and artist based in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, having recently returned home after a five-year sojourn in Oregon and Alaska. Her work has appeared in a wide variety of publications both online and in print, including The Baltimore Review, Apeiron Review, SOFTBLOW, Lines + Stars, The Inflectionist Review, Rust + Moth, and Riggwelter. She is the author of In the Wake (White Violet Press, 2014), a full-length collection of poetry. She is a 2008 graduate of Johns Hopkins University’s MA in Writing program, and has served in an editorial capacity for publications such as Outside In Literary & Travel Magazine, Prompt & Circumstance, and VoiceCatcher.

This entry was posted in Poetry and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Murder Ballads

  1. L.K. Latham says:

    Nice one: Death as the ultimate dance master.

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