Back to Issue Eighteen.

The president’s face is not



like mine. In small ways I’ve been hated,
loved, bruised by

burden. But the President’s
face is everywhere

and nowhere like the moon,
always and never someone’s

aphrodisiac, night
terror, escape

valve, excuse
to howl. We watch him

age in four years
a decade, a quarter century

in eight, and after
simply fade. When everyone’s asleep

I count dependents
on one hand, tweeze grays

with the other. Imagine his lips
on his daughter’s forehead

or cheek when he puts her to bed,
clean, fed, and for another day

safe. Maybe America’s like the one
who hasn’t come home yet,

two hours past curfew and still
no phone call, no text.

Every house tents its own
weather. In his it is always

November. Elsewhere the lightning
bugged lawns of June

under a half-mast
haiku moon. The cherry blossoms

either an almost divine kind
of shade or pulp beneath the millipede

feet of the crowd-
machine. He watches our lever-fists

insist on ignition. When you roll
back the petals of every decision,

what’s left? A bud, naked of
revision. Its inaugural

gasp. A lifetime. Then
its last.


A train fused to track and night flooding



this Andean plateau, once inland

sea. Marooned salt ghosts white
at sunset, then sops up the colors like bread. Where did all that water go?

And how did it swamp the lungs of a boy

stones in a dry creek, a woman too
weak to climb her stairs? We sylph

the same darkness that spills
into valleys. Up here it is sheen

between stars. The moon-joint swivels
in its spent socket

and that feather-lashed cast still winks as if to lure
ships off the edges of maps.


Bright moments of sound burst
upward with smoke

from outdoor kitchens. I surface rough
alpaca blankets into the news from home,

eight days late
on a grainy TV screen.

Rooftop arms have already ceased
their desert-island reaching. My destination

is another city in standoff
with stars. I’ll buy a hot shower

in The Salt Hotel, stand in the steam
until I disappear.

Erin Rodoni’s poetry has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Cimarron Review, Drunken Boat, The Pinch, Spoon River Poetry Review, Cider Press Review, Ninth Letter, and Pinwheel, among others. Her poems have also been included in Best New Poets 2014, featured on Verse Daily, and nominated for Pushcart Prizes. She received a 2013 Intro Journals Award from AWP. Her debut collection won the 2015 Sixteen Rivers Press Manuscript Competition and is forthcoming in 2017. She currently serves as the Poetry Editorial Assistant for Literary Mama and lives in Kentfield, CA, with her husband and young daughter.

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