Fire and Ice

August is All You’re Allowed

It’s a log cabin I hole myself
up in Thoreau-style, my only neighbors
the pines, cedars, the black walnuts
littering the floor with their dense body
musty, bittersweet, thick
NPR calls it the un-walnut and
the black birds agree, knocking
the fat fruit from the canopy
embodying how thump is sounded out
by the mouth, tha-ump, tha-ump
it sinks through
the air like the winged
seed of a maple – samaras
they’re called, the word a gob of honey
slinking down the lip
of a mug, samaras, samaras, they evolved
to fly, to carry their seeds to sunnier more
hospitable places, to keep tucked in, tucked
away, tucked beneath the brush
where the white dotted fawns
lay spindle under spindle leg, quiet and
waiting. When you spot them, you stop.
You hold your breath.
You move on.

Ethan Gorham Photography

Notes Toward a Pure Hauntology

History is perched and crooning –
a vulture’s smirk reflected
in fawn’s blood fifty feet below.

Turning cog! Tuning fork! –
imbibe me; strike me as useful and send me
tumbling toward a more delicious reality.

I have found my kin there –
beneath the pungent forest floor.
Beneath the rot of outdated modes,

we lie in wait for the seventh
seal to be broken; we wait on our bellies
for the space between the notes

to once again reign over the
thunderous colosseum of my car payment
is due in ten days, and I make less than

twelve dollars an hour, and I have
a child and why the fuck should this be so hard?

Europe is teething again.

The lightness of our place has become
the most unbearable tickle. While
wholeness peers ‘round corners at us

like a specter of Marx, shalom crawls
convalescent at our heels but
there is now NO TIME TO REAP –

there is time for no new thing
under the sun, and – in a breath – I have understood:
we are petals on the wet, black pavement.

Art by Aaron Lelito


Golden friends launch like missiles
into aquamarine glinting with diamonds.
Tunneling earthworm, I keep
three points of contact at all times.
They laugh, encourage, bribe, threaten.
“You’ll pop right back up. See?
Just like us.”

Another pool, another hot day
thirteen or fourteen summers before
when I was nothing more than a sinking scrap
of bone and muscle and the waterslide
sent me skimming and proud and plunging and panicking,
a piece of gravel falling to the heart of the stone
before I was caught.

Since when was I like them,
the bold ones, with their boyfriends
and cars and false nails,
hurling themselves into danger
that only I can see?

They call.
They chant.
They promise me that I am wrong,
that this water is as harmless as any other.
My feet are tile.
Finally, a friend gives in. Water
fractures like a stone around us.

NOVUS Literary and
Arts Journal
Lebanon, TN