Back to Issue Thirty-One

The Entrenchment



It was so figurative, until it wasn’t. I know better now
than to believe men will not think a ditch into a hole

and a thought into conquest. All us mud-slung wretches.
All of us, us and all of us, them. Do you remember

what we wanted? There was a spectrum, I think:
a blue light blinked and the us yearned towards it, stuck.

A red light blinked and the them yearned toward it, stuck.
For rats in a maze the incentive is simple: hunger.

Memory squeezes through tonight’s sharp want—air
space to call my own. I forget if there was an experiment

for us—how frozen can the human heart become
before shattering? The us, the them. I played stuck-

in-the-mud as a child, but it was always concrete:
too late to be let loose, already too late to release

from the bear-traps drawn of tongues. Did we want
what they wanted? I am too deep below. No more below,

no more over the top. Before the entrenchment, a voice
not yet deluged by dirt.

Now, I swallow my own tongue for touch.



This Long Arc



Progress makes its prim trash—
dark plastic cannisters full
of our unlearning. I ask
the worst questions
and it is not shame. It is not
shame when the petals have dropped
and the layered poppy is stark
in ugliness. Trash is a sacrament.
Take of my debris so you may
eat. Drink of my ignorance
so you may learn. My hair lost
its curl in upstate New York—
a flat earth theory. It is not shame
in the unshielded light to outline
the dress I wore back then, minimal
but beaded with the jewels
of my most rotten thought.
I want to be better, I tell anyone
but no one holds me to that bet.
Instead it’s self-portrait after
self-portrait: my profile shaded
in ash, curve of cheek rounded
in vegetable peel. A face of unidentified
viscera. Better tucked away
with my gilded regrets.




Caroline Crew is the author of PINK MUSEUM (Big Lucks), as well as several chapbooks. Her poetry and essays appear in Conjunctions, DIAGRAM, and Gulf Coast, among others. Currently, she is pursuing a PhD at Georgia State University, after earning an MA at the University of Oxford and an MFA at UMass-Amherst. She’s online here:

Next (Gale Marie Thompson) >

< Previous (Bruce Snider)