Back to Issue Nineteen.

blood work



All night some critter roots gold teeth from the shrubbery,
phalanx of uncut corn covers the field in waves,

& the rain barrel duplicates
the moon’s white face, mold growth

in standing water. You wake to pain registered
in every limb’s synapse,
each lit terminal,
which I can do nothing against & tell you so.

My St. Francis of the Wild, of the Cloak of Birds
chunked full with an enema,

you chain the pasture gate, though the horse is gone.
If I could hide you in my quiver—

If the stars punch holes in the dark—

Because I can’t, I practice forgetting
providing against

the question of heaven the dead call across
the gap but go silent.

Because I can’t, I play the mad king
torching the orchard

before the blight as they search the cell’s inheritance,
& come back with the same story
in every retelling.
Night watch, night work:

knitting the skin works in the cut,
what lays waiting in the cut.
My gasolined Daphne burns,

the peaches wrinkle in the heat, falling
from the tree limbs,

the contrast liquid
runs fractured through
the body’s endless hallways.

My woman feeds a wolf with her viscera
& reads the pills by touch, their stamped indents.

She indexes the records & wakes late
to the evacuation of ants
from every pore
of her skin.

She lies there & lets them leave. A whole colony
that to move her arms she must convince

a million tiny pieces of herself

to cooperate, excite the particles into shifting.
Beyond the window,

evergreens like steeples
sit watch in the middle-distance.
My wolf places her cry among the elements.

My wolf spreads grief through song believing it

something finite & transferrable, an evil
done of hunger and thus, forgivable.

Her song blossoms open the earth
where the body slots home.



hymn for the gun


Trigger Locks – Rapist Approved! *

Got this itch to feel my kick, this
sickness. Got this fever
to pack heat, gunslinger.

Even gun shot but not
shy. Kill switch

with a bullet, your rival’s
second coming.

Divine verdict with a full clip.

Night after night,
night night.

Shun me & you’re naked
for I name you—

if strapped while black:
a gangster. But white:
a waver of the flag.

Not the trill
of the trigger finger or the one
behind the gun,

I’m the killer.

Taming sinners, I clear
the path of righteousness
beset by the selfish. Shoot first

shoot to kill kill shot they will know
my name by the holes
I leave in them:

of a mouth blowing smoke, a ring
of blood. If you plug

some drunk undergrad
from the kegger next door,

who took cover from the cops
on your three-season porch,

don’t recoil from my kick, this sickness.
I’m risk you’re willing to admit.



* The epigram is taken from a tee-shirt design by Jews For The Preservation of Firearms Ownership, Inc. Each order includes free copy of Gran’pa Jack #7: “Do Gun Prohibitionists Have a Mental Problem?”

Casey Thayer is the author of Self Portrait with Spurs and Sulfur (University of New Mexico Press, 2015) and has work published or forthcoming in AGNI, American Poetry Review, Poetry, and elsewhere. Currently, he is a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and splits his time between Chicago and the Bay Area.

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