7.10 / September 2012

Two Poems

Swamps

listen to this poem

When they drained the swamp water
from his ribs, they found a chewed bit
of heart, strung with seaweed like a locket.

They folded it in his suicide note
and gave it to his son, who gummed it
until his teeth grew in. He aged
with his daddy’s eyes, bought a house
by the swamps, lost his hair watching
his wife doll up and disappear, smiling
at her own limp in the morning.

Bare-pocketed, he saw his son minnow-mouth
at the ghost of his mother’s breast.
They’d rock together, stomachs growling
until she came home soaked in sweat
and cologne to nurse her son full of
well-whiskey and borrowed cigarettes.

They found him in the swamp, just bones
with a head full of lead and swamp mud.
The coroner thought his skeleton
was waterlogged well before death.

They wrapped the bullet in a note,
the same note his dad left, and gave it
to his son, a scar for things that don’t bleed.
The boy read the first line of the note
“There are swamps everywhere. Stay dry.”
and set the note on fire, dropping
the bullet in the ash. He wrapped
his arms around himself like a rag
wrenched his little ribs until water sprung
like ribbons in the breeze. He pulped his veins
and slept in the sand, daring
the tide to try and tongue his bones.


The Girl Who Prays for Storms

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Firefly-eyed with blossom soft
brown skin, she’d moonbathe and pray
to nighttime clouds, steamy starlight,
for storms to come and rattle her ribs.

As her hips spread from sapling straight to
oak crescents, she’d touch her tongue to her wrist
and taste her pulse, slapping out our song
like a quickened tide sloshing a rhythm.

The same beat we’d dance to when we grew
voices from the sounds we’d heard as children
wailing in the dark like make-believe
madrigals. The song she taught me
when I found breath in her lungs, deep enough
to soothe the cinders crawling in my veins
till they sighed away their steam, like bodies in snow.

We’ll take this tune dancing, river-waltzing
like tipsy leaves, swaying down midnight shores.
Withering in time, and touching like tempests.

When the song is over, she’ll ease her feet
into the mumble of the waves. I’ll watch
without a voice as she rubs my ashes
into her wrists, and scatters the rest
into the sea; skin wrinkled like bark
but eyes still burning like fireflies at dusk.


Caleb Kaiser is an 18 year old poet and artist from the Kentucky/Cincinnati area. He is a staff member of Able Projects and the Adroit Journal. His love of bourbon and dancing is well-known among literary types, and he takes flowers very seriously.
7.10 / September 2012

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