Category Archives: Poetry

Taking the Dolls Home

Earth is the basin that holds you. A depression where ashes cling trough to rim, is the body contoured to its maker. I will keep the dust from cataracting the nesting dolls still sloped along your windowsill— always with their … Continue reading

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On Meeting a Shrike

It stopped me dead at first. A pupil pushing back green irises flush at its sides—an opening in the woods you curated. Hawthorns with white blooms, honey locust limbs locking barbs above the path that splintered the hill in mulch—a … Continue reading

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Lift

A paper crane hangs down from the rod above the window, surrounded by air but not quite flying. Stacks of square paper line his desk. He licks his thumb and slips a single white sheet from the closest pile. My … Continue reading

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Muscle Memory

She lifts the arm with a single finger, sets the needle down on the exact groove where silence sputters and pops, turns itself around as if a circle is just a corner with no end. She closes her eyes and … Continue reading

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Refuge

In the quiet house, candies have no wrappers. Horehound barrels are mounded in a glass dish. She plucks them with a thumb and forefinger always from the top, so the others do not tumble— so there is no sound. In … Continue reading

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Natural Light

In a house adjacent to shadow, the caldera surrounding her eyes, is the first to sunset. Something of a glimmer lingers on the rim despite the dimness— late afternoon scouring color from the cups laid out for tea. A web … Continue reading

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Named Beneficiaries

I’m not comforted by funerals— killing flowers to honor the dead, spending money to rob nature of decay. What slows my pulse is the time-lapse footage of ravens standing on a corpse’s chest, beaks tugging at rotten flesh so forcefully … Continue reading

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Eve

Ascend the rungs of your ribcage, God instructed us when we first learned to breathe. I try to climb slowly as panic gathers but my breath snags on that rib of his. I don’t believe I’ll ever reach my collarbones. … Continue reading

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Gifts of Emptiness

Two empty glass honey jars on my kitchen sill, second wedding gift from the woman who guided and inspired, arranged my bridal blessings shower, left our world too soon. Her last words to me, “Dreaming of spring and your exuberant … Continue reading

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World War II

The war my father never spoke of lived in the sixth-grade history book I lugged home from school. On the school bus a flame curled inside my book. I looked around to make sure the other kids didn’t notice. Nothing … Continue reading

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my father’s last hope for water

oil could be the reason i was born in July, the detritus’ best blessing; between the fishermen & their empty nets, right off the islanding sands. a homing boat calls for a lost roost like a lone seagull. my father … Continue reading

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war baby & a song for mothers – the personifications of loss as it was written from the beginning. Or an attempt at the destruction of Eden where a girl means the opposite of Adam

for chang i open & close yet another door after the first door that led us to the revolution broke: a poet fondling his age with manuscripts that look like roses crushed by rejection. a day-old rifle in his hands. … Continue reading

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the survivor

for wave our boat, bought with Syma’s debt, deepened its oars till the next island Ara, swam through a mass of grey light to see what little ocean still carried mother & child further south down the promise of his … Continue reading

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Hollywood Beginning

Maybe you will be a friend of a friend who shows up in the knick of time right at the end before the credits roll and we will try to remember each other’s names and where we first met and … Continue reading

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I Am Not In Love

So, I am building a home I am cementing love in the floorboards I am hanging it on the walls I am setting it gently on my dresser. I am wishing love to find me soon, but not until I’m … Continue reading

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Bones

A baby has 300 bones an adult only 206. 94 less bones, and I’m certain my backbone didn’t make it. My body’s central support structure gone. My head, chest, pelvis, all suspended in thin air. Babies have more cartilage in … Continue reading

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Rehearsal

Those hills in the distance turn a rose color, like a hummingbird’s tongue stretched to taste the dawn. Behind the hills, the shadow of ancient cities moves across the face of the sun like random words. On a low wall … Continue reading

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Tourism

The ferry to Ko Chang was worth the cost of that night in a hostel on the edge of Trat, one dial-up computer to let him know how I got out of Battambang in the back of a pickup truck, … Continue reading

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Hoboken

            where New Jersey slides into the Hudson.                         Where you breathed bodies of dust for weeks.                                     Where that Tuesday morning broke             you and your vows that were only asides                         to a longing for something concrete.                                     Where the buildings burned for months. … Continue reading

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California King

Never go to bed angry, It is said. I wake, mid-sentence, raging. When I turn There is an empty space beside me And I am frightened at how long I have been here Plotting my words alone. Everything is the … Continue reading

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Storm Warning

The soundtrack from a Nineties adventure film fills the frigid January air at the Nebraska truck stop as I scribble her a quick note. I imagine the envelope won’t arrive in California before seasonal weather blankets Donner Pass. I will … Continue reading

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Lost in Thoughts

On a lead-colored January dawn, I am indifferent to imagination as the branches in the oak forest creek although I am reminded that sunlight consoles hardwoods. In the net of memory, I leave behind your silhouette as I tread across … Continue reading

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Following Broken Lines

When autumn departs, a gray wind scribbles faint traces of snowflakes in the afternoon as I begin to appreciate the dark in those long moments behind the steering wheel when the face of the clock in a passing town displays … Continue reading

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How a Song is Written

The valley is captured by thunder as I listen to frantic birdcalls in gray alder and black cottonwoods just minutes before dusk when loneliness echoes on hairpin curves before miles of night driving become a dream recalled in the bright … Continue reading

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before I ever

A graduate of the Virginia Military Institute—where he is an Assistant Professor of English—and of the Ole Miss MFA program in poetry, Henry Wise’s work has appeared in Shenandoah, Radar Poetry, Nixes Mate Review, Eunoia Review, and elsewhere.

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