by Max Schleicher
Crossed wet and coal-grinning. Flood land
traced back three generations. Black spores
pattern tavern wrists. With the gasping
of light in chill hands, convicts scrape
finish from basement steps and I drop
from porch tables to diving black swifts
at Falk Corporation. They close in hard,
emblematic buds. They hold the poison
of many places in their livers. Light unable
to swallow is their flight comfortable
in my own skin.
I get it right, this light I remember so cruelly in.
Believe one thing I say, that this is my bread:
three boys spit in my face and break my ribs.
It's my life to steal what's theirs, so I give.
I gather myself by the neck to show you
a common dream of low houses looks back.
The Smell of Sugar
If not these, what were the signs the flood
had passed? The heart the Lord plucked
wept the light. A perfume card rubbed
down her neck. Skipping the line, the Lord said
I give you at long last the intruder
fantasy that made the upper Midwest,
peach rings, sour gummies, sugar dots
on paper for 49 cents. You try and you try
but I alone try the reins, the Lord said
biting a rope of chewy cherry licorice,
pulling out the Egyptian cotton thread.
"Piggsville" was a finalist for our 2017 Up North Poetry Prize.