Back to Issue Seventeen.

disappearing trick



The music we like is half carousel,
half villain. I cut my hair myself
because asking for help is harder.
The feeling was of being beyond
speaking. Your hand on my neck,
the dark mountains receding.
Of course, they’ll come back
in the morning. Of course,
the Pittsburgh sky holds nothing,
or everything, the trouble of noticing
milk clouds, or clouds like white
curtains. On the radio, a blind man
speaks about seeing in the dark
using sound. His world my clouded
peripheral. The problem
is mainly one of listening.
You gave me a tiny deck of cards,
a blue doll with a red heart. I was jealous
of the me who could dream of you
all night, the world not whole
but mapped, at least. The hard
permanence of mountains.
But the last thing my father did for me
was become the ocean. And when to say it:
when to reveal that inside the black felt hat
is not a rabbit, but nothing. My heart
a box of string. I keep ordering
my father’s favorite meals and refusing
to explain the significance
of each tuna fish sandwich.
How many sentences can exist
without context? How to link one thing
to the next without becoming
a toy train circling a blue
foam mountain?



the world of lost things



Dear Horoscope. Dear Horror. If I face
the window head-on, snow glitters
like craft store felt. The sun surprises
and tiny spots of blood become constellations
on the rug. I could make anything a star,
the shape of a bear, a bird, a woman.
Whatever you wanted, as far as
information, the dead’s measurements,
what color eyes, hair, shoe size,
from here out I was refusing. My mother
becomes a black bird in a dream
because she has wings. How much depends upon
my father’s blue wheelbarrow my mother
set out on the curb. Very little
is worth keeping tied to a wrist, becoming
attached to via strings and zippers.
A girl flies a kite in the picture
behind the weather report of negative
three degrees. It’s all an ice storm
in my heart and no laughter
at thunder. What happens to pages
left to face sun for a season
of misplaced commas, mis-
remembered addresses? The music
will creak floorboards whoever
is listening. Or not listening. That’s
the point of imagining yourself
instead like furniture, arms
open and chenille, lint gathering.


Stephanie Cawley is from southern New Jersey. She is currently an MFA student at the University of Pittsburgh, and her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in TYPOFairy Tale ReviewH_NGM_NPowder Keg, and Birdfeast, among others.

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