Back to Issue Thirty-Six

Marsh Light




After Emily Skaja

Does it take shelter to organize shelter
Is it true that you can love a boy

Against his will & get away
With it​ if the town is small enough

And the fathers pretend not to know

When did I know what had happened?
Was I a dull sound           a moth light

Asleep in the marshland           Did I walk through
The settlement forgiving everyone because I wanted

To feel clean only once

It is a sickness I think
This wrong kind of longing

How I scrubbed what had happened like I was scrubbing
a cup after dinner

What I wanted was my sainthood

To have been loved once and loved only gently
My boyhood left intact in its bed

She said ​don’t tell anyone​ and though I didn’t say yes
I stayed quiet

Though now I’ll tell anyone who asks me

About how marshes don’t freeze in the winter

I’ll take my stone gift down off of the counter
I’ll raise the cup to their lips and say




The Townhouse






My brother was violent, then dead.
My father said he strangled his classmates.

My brother strangled his classmates.
He liked to leave their presents unopened.

My brother as a present unopened.
I almost visited when he was alive.

I should have visited when he was alive.
Though he would not have known it was me.

His helpers would not have known it was me.
Each night they helped him swallow his dinner.

One night he could not swallow his dinner.
The city came but his mouth was closed shut.

My brother is a brother closed shut.
My brother is not violent, but dead.




Seven Manifestos on Pleasure




There is a ghost inside of your body who is waiting for your body to die.
He doesn’t mind it. Each year that passes, for him, is a pleasure.

The cow is facedown in the field. When it storms, the rain hits his hide.
Yes, he is dead, but his loose snout, in the rain, still dances with pleasure.

It is a fortune to remember the dead. It is also a fortune
To forget them. Only one of these fortunes is pleasure.

On a dark beach, a seagull eats from a carcass. His bill is covered in whale.
If you loved the whale, you must also love the seagull’s slick pleasure.

What does it mean to be pleasured?​ It means to be suddenly brought
Out of your ghost. W​hat is a ghost?​ A deposit of outdated pleasure.

In this stanza, the whale is alive. Look — he is eating the seagull.
The cow too is alive. Smelling the rain, his tail swishes in pleasure.

As a boy, I pretended to see a ghost, whose name was also David.
To lie marks the end of believing. And also the beginning of pleasure.



David Freeman  is a poet, essayist, and playwright from Long Lake, MN. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Ploughshares, The Kenyon Review Online, Prairie Schooner, The Massachusetts Review, and others. He is the recipient of a Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award in Poetry and the 2020 Hopwood Graduate Poetry Award. He is currently pursuing his MFA in Poetry at the Helen Zells Writer’s Program at the University of Michigan. More information can be found at

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