Back to Issue Thirty-Seven

School Bus Stop

2021 Gregory Djanikian Scholar in Poetry – Finalist


O muscle
of deer jaw, O strange

chord. Wind rubber-
banding a buck

a truck turned
carrion. O night,

did man stagger
to trace a truck’s

dent? His hand
shook. Rack tilted

in steam with true bone
with frosting velvet.

If I remember how
swamp flies body

bare, recycles deeds
into quiet water;

a cheek
of tobacco, a knife,

a divot-pocked
skull into peat. All month

long, I counted days
in how little harp

string was left in
a deer’s throat, O

how many rocks
I held,

waiting for a truck,
a dent, some man

thinking all forgotten…
I would have cast

the first stone,
then the last.



College Break Party at the Depot: Couple in the Field

2021 Gregory Djanikian Scholar in Poetry – Finalist


“The Soo Line still operates, but it has not offered passenger service through Superior (or Duluth) since 1967. The station was used as a freight depot until it closed in 1989. In 1993 the Soo Line Station was used in the Disney film Iron Will…the building has been converted into retail shops [and a living space].”
Zenith City Online

At first, we couldn’t see them in the field. Couldn’t hear them either—
the way music made its way in the earth. All along the lakeshore welding
machines stalled with layovers. That night, everyone pretended
at something: Girls, white-gloved, swung invisible golf clubs. Jimmy T
showed up drunk, in a toga, his brother’s bed sheet stained. It’s true,
there was no theme here. Everyone clogged up the door frame.
When our bodies touched for first time since high school, it felt familiar.
I mean, I don’t think it was love, but I felt something dust off.
You see, if the iron comes roaring, if the train speaks up, we’d shoot
outside to pass the bottle. Steve pointed out the couple in the long grass.
We waited quiet. We tracked each slat. Doesn’t look like deer, Josh said.
Isn’t—and sure enough, it was Christian and someone’s sister. No,
not Josh’s—but the guy next to him, who saw the shovel leaning
in the garden center. He grabbed it by the dull end. I guess we forgot
we invited him. I guess we forgot his name. Honestly, we didn’t know
him well. You see, we were watching down the ties. We didn’t know
when the cars would clear, only what tomorrow depended on: the caboose.
If it blinked, if the conductor would ever change these tracks. I’m going to kill
her, the boy said. Everyone knew he brought her. The sound of rough clay.
The shovel chinking, beat by beat, the rhythm of clacking steel. A song
we knew we knew.


Jacob Lindberg is a 2020 McKnight Writing Fellow and holds an MFA from the University of Arkansas. He serves as the Editor-in-Chief of Up North Lit. His poetry can be found or is forthcoming in Sycamore Review, Rattle, cream city review, Salamander, and others.

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