Back to Issue Thirty-Two


2020 Gregory Djanikian Scholar in Poetry

Horses on the ridge
                                        when I’m finally sleeping, 

long diamonds on their faces.

            They smell like dung and star anise.

They bow to the palace
                                        of shadows that a dream is.

Up and over the ridge is Satan,

                            a lonely horse himself.

I can only tell his face
                                        is lovely, tender knobs

rise from his forehead.

He lets me listen to his thoughts with him,

            how he turns each phrase

like a mirror up to his face.        Once I was an angel,

then I was a snake.
                                I came to Eve because she was

            as I was—drawn to solitude,

                                                 warmth, the light

blinking inside her own mind.

                                                 He stands

on his hind legs to assess
                                        the crop of dreamers

watching him. I look to him

            like a floating staircase, smoke framing

a mouth. I wander towards
                                                 waking awhile

before looking back at the ridge, the fallen.

            Satan calls out to ask me
                                                 if I thought choice

was just a fallacy.            As if

Eve thought twice

                to follow the horses wherever

                                                         they were going.



Marriage a Pair of Wild Dogs

Previously appeared in Indiana Review.
2020 Gregory Djanikian Scholar in Poetry

Hoard & tooth. House & bone.
Hounded. Held. Hound us,
we bite. We, bitten, house

a crown of teeth.
We own no wish, we
need. We are hungry.

Language dead, we bond
to dogs who roam
with us, dig us

from our silent home.
We come from wounding,
born harmful, bow-tight. We

are hours asked why?
Every increment of how
crowds the gangway

of our throats
but we have no word
for hurry just the snow

come hard at dawn.
We are rutted in
our empty, our migrant,

our lost. For this we make
small dangers. None other
breeds to loss.



The Animal Afterward

Previously appeared in Passages North.
2020 Gregory Djanikian Scholar in Poetry

When all the milk teeth have fallen
    and our gums are fresh, wet,
raw—when the calcification has begun
    to fuse one rib and a digit
to the next—when the sun bleaches
    our skull matte—when sand
has rubbed the rest of us smooth,
    we can shed our outer
wounds, the matted tufts too tough
    to pass off as skin.
And then burrow in each other,
    the only other—
the I, the you. How long ago
    was the first season,
our first spring—my first nest
    hairy with bees?
We stalked each other, our only
    other, held down
with stiff spine, stuck need.
    It was the prologue with limbs.
And I’ve kept every tooth,
    veins dried inside them.
Pinned up the slough to the walls
    inside me in rows
like roses. I’ve slept with clippings
    of your whiskers braided
into the hem of my sheets. You’ve
    left traces of your claws,
marked me in stripes you’d find
    only on a fish. We will
always have each other like this.
    Leviathan and Behemoth—
us in the beginning, us meeting
    the end and starting again.
After our epoch they’ll find us
    as skeletons under the ocean,
water will peel away to show
    what we had been.
We’ll be raw bones, but again,
    we’ll have breath.



How Woman Inherits the Earth

Previously appeared in Phoebe.
2020 Gregory Djanikian Scholar in Poetry

Come some blood, some gristle. Let myself be unfurled,
red tongue rolled out, wine-thick, a wave.

Speak myself into existence. Open wide the cage inside me,
survey my boning, my nerve, the lit lace of me.

Not long before the thaw, I was carved, crushed as snow.
Was made to shatter, was ice. Underground spring turned hungry,

I turned mindless fog, spirit in the grass. I rinsed myself thin like droplets.
I could hear myself disappearing— erasure— back into a cloud.

Back to phantom lung, gauze unpacked from snow, silver beaded shadow,
white liver, frost tongue. Now long pastures of my voice unveil themselves

by lightning. The net of veins, damp ribbons in my chest, untie
their knots—I sing. I breathe— my lungs patterned after

two warped mandolins. My limbs—unfolded maps of open water.
Come some sound, some answer. Come the cells that build the blood,

the crumbs of notes in music. Let not my fear, my love for this world
be a coagulant. Let me bring it to my lips and drink.




Gabriella R. Tallmadge is a Latinx writer and educator from San Diego, California. She holds degrees in English, Creative Writing, and Counseling. She is certified in Mental Health Recovery and Trauma-Informed Care by San Diego State University. Gabriella’s poetry has received awards from the Idyllwild Arts Writers Week program, Hedgebrook Writer in Residence Program, the Community of Writers Workshop, the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, and Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Her work has previously appeared in journals such as Bat City Review, The Georgia Review, Crazyhorse, Guernica, Mid-American Review, and Poetry Northwest.

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