Back to Issue Forty-One

Decay is the Lively Form of Death



the way, laying, we name each bird
a dove under humming power lines

you, punctured clover,
inflamed and spring-full—

Between your tempered fingers
my waxen thigh
a moment of rest exhales

blackberries stain
your shirt; I am arrested—

Finitude cannot confine
itself to a single word, the clouds
move hastily above us

Yes. I could live in the nest
of your hands, folded
behind this lucent curtain.






Smothered in tarragon and dill
our hands lay hushed over the sink;
again I will ask if your eyes are
a window to                      climb through

Let us recall those powdery moments:
playing rummy on the carpet,
never had we been caught in
such repose—
August reminds me how this life
could be mistaken for two
open palms.
I would like to be the window,
half-full urn

Four buzzards roost on
the nearby oak.             A shadow is cast over
my face and
only my face remains.



Plaint as Small Wings



I coat our shared biscuit in gooseberry jam as
you speak of grief without despair—

How many times have we crossed a river
only to enter another?

Sweat clings to your neck like a film
of life, or many chrysalises

And my black coffee is blacker still;
I am struck lightless

My open palm rests on your back,
looking for an entrance

There is a need to repeat
an instant until it becomes fragrance;

like last spring, when I killed a fledgling
by giving it too much water

It looked so fresh with its glossy face
wings pliant and sinewy

I called my Baba to tell him of tiny death,
he responded with an enigma of sameness––

Foolish to ask how many animals he’s buried,
to impart anything

One of us gathers loss and the other
empties the vessel:

azaleas are thick with want,
my words are small and gleaming

You lean into me, say
it doesn’t taste orange

I want so much to live in the poem—
it dissipates like hares under a full moon.


Chloe Tsolakoglou is a Greek-American writer who grew up in Athens, Greece. She obtained her MFA from the Jack Kerouac School, where she served as the Anselm Hollo Fellow. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Denver Quarterly’s FIVES, The Adroit Journal, GASHER, and elsewhere. You can find more of her work at

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