red line

Endpoint, paper collage, Annalynn Hammond

Dinner was the same: ground beef — a portion
of father’s six hundred dollar salary — tomato sauce,
and elbow macaroni. We ate after a quick prayer and when
he finished bellowing about the boss and weather’s
lack of mercy. That winter night, when he reached
for another helping, mother noticed a thin red line
flowing from his thumb all the way to his armpit.
His stoic suffering visualized as blood poisoning.
The infection had inched forward in proportion to the pounds
of noodles, canned sauce, and slaughtered cattle that filled
our child-sized stomachs. Weeks before, father had cut his thumb
skinning a dead lamb. During lambing season, orphans are draped
with the skins of the dead to deceive mothers. A forced rebirth
through the smell of the familiar. When they left for the emergency room,
we watched the trace of their brake lights in the empty darkness.
As orphan bonded to new mother, we ate in committed silence.

in excelsis

“She was territory and words occupied her.” — Jeanette Winterson

photographer: Gary Ross Pastrana

Contrived as a self-portrait
& captured in landscape mode,
diamonds rest at her throat.

Lips split wide enough to connect
in rapture of majestic glare.
Caged, he filled negative space.

To steal a line:
the crowd’s a rapacious beast

Starlings sang from burnt trees —
songs misinterpreted as warnings.
Ecstasy migrates inward.

Cities bend to western light
when a sun rises full & tender.
In ascension, fireworks sound blue.

line from Silkworm. “Tarnished Angel,” Firewater (1996)