Threat of tornado, the long alarm. Worms crisscrossing

sidewalks, bodies bloated, pushed from their private

tunnels into the weep of the world—bright & sudden. Ditches flooded

make swimming pools for children who don’t mind

the muck; untrimmed grass transforms

easily to reeds, my long, lithe body the body

of an otter as my teeth sink into the flesh

of a writhing fish. My little brother slipping in the slick

mud, laughter hysterical, unprovoked by anything but the raw cord

of joy we’ve managed to grasp onto. Never let it go,

I whisper to that version of myself, to that version of my brother.


Fireflies in summer. The winding night drive

from my grandparents’ house. Long sticky nights no fan

could alleviate. Iced tea, smell of lemon. Family walks boxed in

by corn. Rows & rows of it. You could never

get free, no matter how far you walked.


I could go on & on about autumn; I was prone to romancing

its warm hues, the cold crunch. I loved the ache of it

& the ache grew. I grew

older & poured the feeling into a boy. Nights we drove aimlessly,       

listening to Blonde on Blonde or Blood on the Tracks.

Or we sat on the hood of his car,

Miles Davis in the background, Neil Young, Willie Nelson—

the music prompting our hands, our hands expanding

our worlds. Stars lowering themselves

into the field, & a feeling I prefer to suppress,

but don’t. Tenderness welled up so strong I sang a song

to him in the dark, despite shame for my voice. Sometimes still

I catch myself singing it. And remember what it felt like to love

him without all the residual anger—anger that is shame

putting on a face for the person I was & what I let

him do to me. And how the love was love

but also desperation: eventually it lay wasted beneath weather:

dried up worm, stiff as leather. 



This poem originally appeared in Issue 4 of Riggwelter.