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“How to Disappear in America,” “39,” “God of War in the Coin Laundry”



—after Alec Soth

become a palette
of slight variation

early woods are ash, balsam, fawn

pocket pussy, a shiv
broom handle, leather strap, glass

let’s make this easy

blood holds the dirt
to the blade

or is it the other way?
this time of year

oaks drop
their leaves completely

i want to be a small thing
come winter

inventory: toilet paper, vaseline, power strip, scissors

hard to see, built into
the mountain

specter of home

white bulb, wool blanket
inside the book, a key

laundry line
beneath a gray sky

means we don’t have much time

desert without beginning or end
has no choice

but to reckon with a body
with anything

broken down, dragged out
to the sage steppe

only mustangs approach
the school bus now

that yellow
mixed in 1939

meant to be
hard to ignore

you might be curious
what I remember

about that house

all I can say is
when i left

i made every
soft thing cower

at my foot
beg forgiveness




i was wondering how much
i had left of anything
trying on numbers

like coats maybe forty
more birthdays asking myself
how does that make you feel?

when the rain stopped
we saw a double rainbow
out our kitchen window

it was st. patrick’s day
and you were three years old
we didn’t know

what was going to happen
inside a shuttering city
hospital ship days from port

but we did what we could
went outside and ran
laughing, picking up sticks

tapping on phone poles
what sound does this make?
chain link, tree trunk

we cut green shamrocks
made cardboard binoculars
to hunt leprechauns

who’d dropped coins
all over our house
that was me, of course

room to room hiding
gold paper circles
on my hands and knees

no surprise when i was a girl
nothing hurt more
than trying and coming up short

time was boundless
before but now
will i know the last night i hold you?

your sleep voice half in this world
says i’ll miss you by the dark, mama

no one could ever say we lost everything




maybe someone
spilled wine

wet the bed
there could be

an interview
this week

and a broken
dryer at home

turns out
we are all

brought to
our knees

by apartment living
so here he is

Ares checking
his wallet his car

for cash
every possible place

for a few bills
just enough

to make change
before lifting the lid

how much

a washing machine
can take

making the choice
between hot warm cold

and waiting

next to me
on the bench

we listen to water
fill the drum

it takes a long time

he’s checking his phone
like a farmer

checks a field
little nods

fighting in the ranks
virus clusters
stocks tumble

he’s eating creatine bars
iron supplements

he’s that guy

i don’t want to ask
but i’m thinking

everything is
going according

to plan now
he looks proud

all machines
are circling and groaning

through one window
we can see slosh

it’s dizzying
and then

some toy man
who’d hidden

in a pocket

in the swell
arms up, dead eyes

pushed to the glass
and then another

the figures
get close enough

to touch
for a moment

it looks like
they’re holding hands

a woman passing by
doesn’t notice

but says excuse me
her laundry cart

wheel squeaks
under weight

he says to me

this place
it will just

break your heart

Michelle Franke Michelle Franke is a poet, nonprofit executive, and mom.

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by Robert Krut


“Du bout de la pensée,” “Andante Emasculata,” “Emasculata con scratchy”

by Alina Stefanescu