Back to Issue Seventeen.

Nightshift as Horsebride,


meaning bridled, although
my gown in this
rawhide desire
tulled above the knee

wounds. Soft scrape, the bruises,
a brush of hay.
I barefoot toward my lover
turned groom

turned handler.
Bridled: how I raise
my head, a bucket
full of salt. How I bite cheeks

of pears to jerk
fallacy from my mouth.
Debridement: the harness
snaps in your fist,

eschar violets before
the kiss. Fallacy:
my gums
gleam in moonlight.

The milked-out stars
swoon at my flank,
gate swinging.

Letter to Body Made Shadow


or criminal framed transparent
in the belly of a sunlit beast.

What to steal
with your scuffed

mouth and lopsided tongue?
There are no teeth to you.

Silent as carvers’ knives
on the table—hush, listener,

this is a sacrificial act. Always
reduced to feet, my hooligan

shroud. Quiver beneath
the brow, your tongue tipped

with arrowheads for sour
blood. What spree—a lone bulb

you wish to bite. There are no
knives in your back, thank

goodness. What keeps you
tacked to me, my lone

saint of weeds? Maggot—
I mean, may we get

comfortable as suspects
or each other. May we slink

and croon across shrines with our soft
bodies. Our shoes, stones.



Is your mouth a crater in this country too?
And do you smell medicinal as you pry

hemlock apart in your study
of nerves? When you spring

nettles in a puddle of water,
do they point towards the god you

should pine over next? Tell me you sway
like molasses in summer. Tell me how

you dropped to your knees as if to pray
when the gun ricocheted in your hands.

Isn’t the bullet just a magnet
for iron in blood? Who are the ghosts

falling beside you and are they yours
for haunting? Who straightjackets

your arms to your small back
so you grovel less alone? Is your mother

overbearing with all her white dresses?
Do you agree tongues grate like saws when

spitting truths every hour? Noiseful burden.
How do you contour your afternoons

so they lay flat on your stomach
as you practice sacrificing yourself

to wolves and doves alike?
What were you aiming at

with that gun in your hands?
When we fall, we fall like gravel

with shoulders bruised terribly human.

Nightshift as Doppelgänger


Born hellish, hooves and tress.
To be slick, I jellied my insides out.
My heart plummish to enamor rot.
To be your other.

Ever brief.
Accept me—your strange shadow.
Tenet of the tramp dress.
Loose me to a field
and place a mirror beside me.
Loose me to a field
and scythe my chest open
to three crestfallen horses,
to opal,
to evening
varnished in skein.
To plum-reek.
To hooked
bones purled.

Carly Joy Miller‘s work has appeared or is forthcoming in BlackbirdBoston ReviewGulf Coast, MeridianThird Coast, and elsewhere. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and was a finalist for the Bucknell University Stadler Fellowship. She is a contributing editor for Poetry International and a founding editor of Locked Horn Press.

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