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Zachary Bos

Zachary Bos studied in the MFA program at Boston University. He was named runner-up in the 2023 Hearst Poetry Prize and has had recent writing Vroom!, Old Moon, and The Muse Journal. He directs the publishing activity of Pen & Anvil Press out of an office above Bonfire Bookshop in North Central Massachusetts.

By Pity Undeterred

This old ugly contest of who’s on first,
whose prize. I feel ready for tit-and-bum
journalism, finally, ready to
invent new commonplaces, to allow
myself to imagine how it would feel
to believe what I report. But, wary,
I stick to reading. The invitation
writ on the wall of the restroom beckons:

“No strings of any sort.” Of course critics
know that the truly beautiful don’t need
to advertise. Unless making a show
of wanting is in now? I’ve always been
proud of how I earned this reputation
as an authority on wanting. Did
you earn yours? Did he, his? Did she, hers? Fight
not these incessant wars. Where shall we take

our long holiday? Nowhere near here, please,
where we’d be forced for consistency’s sake
to maledict the dead. Let us go far
to somewhere sunny and out of reach. Where
any old dead log might burst into leaf
and flourish like a fashion magazine.
Is that me? A dead log crying to be
made anew a god above all regret—

mired in the process, not nearly half-
baked. When you touch the pan I tremble like
a custard. I record the testament
of any old partially crushed dead log,
suited only to be supervisor
to paper wasps in their dry catacombs.
In the hotels I stay in, I dream of
knowing the people I hear in the hall.

Alone w/ Some Grackle, Starling or Crow

mimicking tongue, parodying / the world – Edwards

A bird strange within the walls of my chest
is caught, who being hurt takes cruel delight
in humiliating me. Having learned a few
words, scant and hurtful, it mutters these,
mutters from the stone it sits upon in
the deep trap of my sinew-bound chest.
The scrape inside me, its wing against bone,
is ceaseless; its indistinct voice, constant.
What the harsh bird says I can’t make out through
the muffling walls of its unlit cell; hence
if there’s justice in its abuse of me,
if I’ve had it coming, I cannot tell.
If ever someone was close to me who could
interpret (or calm) its song, they’ve gone.

Epigraph from Rhian Edwards’ poem “The Birds of Rhiannon”, from the pamphlet Brood.