Back to Issue Ten.

Next to Godliness



There’s a maw in my throat. I can’t love anything
beyond the meadow. I plant teeth there, not for quarters, I want

a top-down popping red car that jets me through eye-hurt
sun streets. In the meadow, moonlight picks its teeth on scraggly trees,

bats dish dash like nervous hands. In my dream, the meadow
is always hot pink. I slap and slap the slap bracelet,

wear my wrist welts everywhere. I am my immigrant parent’s
American. The Ramones is so loud I don’t hear the whistle—

my car crosses tracks one second before the train passes. I die
on the barn floor, and I die the day mom says, Losing your brother

wasn’t an accident, and I die at meadow’s edge—
the ground so spitshine clean so snowy fresh.

Claudia Cortese‘s chapbook Blood Medals is forthcoming from Thrush Poetry Press. Her poems have appeared in Best New Poets 2011, Blackbird, Crazyhorse, Kenyon Review Online, and Rattle, among others, and her essays and book reviews have appeared in Mid-American Review and Devil’s Lake. Her first book of poetry, Cut a Hole and Pull You Through, has been a finalist for prizes from the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry and Black Lawrence Press. Cortese lives and teaches in New Jersey.

More by Claudia Cortese:
Bowl of Cheetos Holy,” Poetry, Issue Six.
Fried Eggs Holy,” Poetry, Issue Six.
The girl plants knives,” Poetry, Issue Six.