Iowa or somewhere like it
forty seven & some change & no change
has come in all the time
I’ve watched corn & children born, bloom & die
born, bloom & die
beneath freezing rains & squalling winds, beneath suns of every single time
feeling like an endless July
born, bloom & die
beneath a suffocating span of sky
& horizons falling from cracked heels, the kings of all things seen
forty seven & short change & fat chance I’ll ever leave like I said I would
when I said I would
when I was eighteen on the dot, gettin too big for them britches, my father would have said
had he been around
but he was only ever voided space,
a silo interrupting sunsets
Good Morning, Good Morning
The sun is wading deep into the sky
and Not-God is in kitchen making noise and probably food.
The sun is insistent and pissed off, and Sam has probably been awake for hours, but stays curled around me like a moon on wane while Not-God throws pans, making thunder.
I smell oil, French toast or pancakes or oatmeal,
breakfast food a mystery to one used to sleeping away days—
but Sam probably loves breakfast food.
I should ask.
I asked once how he took his eggs
and he said ostrich eggs hard-boiled with hot sauce,
so I still don’t know.
I wonder if he and Not-God ever split breakfast, eating out of the pan.
I should ask.
and we exchange small noises between lips and teeth.
We give gifts with closed eyes, touch here and kiss there,
and I feel his smile erupt against collarbone, spine, and cheek.
Not-God has made coffee and smelling it
makes me want to bring two comically large mugs back
for us to lap up as we watch the sun stomp big feet toward the horizon,
want to chase him sockless around blanket mounds all day—
but Not-God is holding Olympian court in the kitchen.
I wonder if Not-God is warning us that our gift giving is audible
or just wants to mark space for the morning.
Not-God is faceless–a toothbrush holder, a bookshelf filler,
and an omnipresent reminder that our own little world has thin walls.
I’m cleaning my gun & washing my clothes, wondering when my day will come
to march in front as freedom’s child,
the bastard poor-white of old.
I’m cutting my hair & flossing my teeth & learning how to say “nice” & “pen”
so I can sit & learn beside
your northern sons & daughters.
I’m eating meat & drinking corked wine, talking in abstract about “the working class” like I’ve never eaten cornbread & greens shoulder-to-shoulder with vague kin.
I’m stirring white gravy & whistling
while roommates turn up sophisticated noses, those ladies who once thought me humble
& my ways quaint.
A Collection of Waking Nightmares
A child is stuck in my throat. I clear it, cough, feel its soft fingers wrap around my vocal chords. A child kicks the back of my tongue and laughs when I gag.
I cough up a child that lands with a splat on the sidewalk. I drag on my cigarette, burning a sigh, look at this gummy pink baby wad and scoop it up with my left hand, chin up, staring into the sky, and choke it down again.
I have a child rooted in my chest, riding my heart like a bucking horse, up and down, laughing. The bastard giggles and bucks and rolls while I have heartburn for five straight days.
I vomit a child into my spotty toilet. It can swim. I can’t even swim. What a goddamn bastard. It paddles around in my breakfast and murky blotches of coffee and something startlingly red, a slimy child in miniature. I snatch it up by its dark hair and dry it with a square of toilet paper. It laughs at my confusion.
A child wakes me up by burrowing its spine into my intestines. I clutch my navel and scream while it chuckles to itself, punching my bladder with glee.
A child is stuck in my throat, and I cannot breathe. I heave on all fours, a hairball, a mass, a great burning sun going dark. I gag and roll and choke and here it is, colliding wetly with the wall. I vomit, shit, release a great bag of blood oozing into the carpet with a rising steam of rot. It does not laugh.
Water over lip of bottle, over dam, rippling, flowing— overstuffed, corn filling burlap to lumpy fruition, spilling, hard dry grains tumbling beneath our feet—
the word itself rolling between tongue and lips,
bursting forth, twisting, between enough and excessive— and I always needed more than enough
Three glasses of wine, eight hours of sleep,
hand holding into embrace, and truth, and truth and a love fit to be wasted, trim-able, marbled, curling around each other for more than warmth—
ample. enough. an itch well scratched. one good blanket.
Emily Blair is an undergraduate senior at Virginia Tech studying Creative Writing and Literature. A product of Appalachia, she loves mountains as much as she hates flat places, and walks uphill for fun. Her goals include teaching writing, continuing to publish poetry, and learning how to hard-boil an egg.
Cover image: Chrystal Berche