Photo by Jeff Sirkin



 . . .


I push my fingers into the crevices

of volcanic rock

send messages to a better future

made of eights


revolutions in misting exteriors (as in film)

once upon a time

I passed through rooms


in prayer

like a piano

I wished to drop

like rain into a pool

ovoid moon harboring the lowest note

so rude

these were my efforts to stay alive

amidst plague years of a different kind

a kind of dreaming

that is, being small

smaller then than the branches that buoyed me,

a tapestry of indeterminate asteroidal wandering

I sometimes have conversations with the ghost

of my love’s love

hold hands with a book

little pulses shimmer through the room

like a nervous system and I am reminded of parties, how we

used to love scavenging the corners

for a past life

like decapods scavenging

the body

as it decomposes into ubiquity

air fluctuates like cells

travelling through a monastery

kitchen where radishes ferment, reviving

the wisdom of ancestors

what picture of solitude can you offer up

without stretching its membrane to a disaster of paleness

I miss the black hole of adolescence

that disappears like vision

into a pupil, the kind of void that sings

like bees in bells

the antediluvian moan

of quickly dying lava

what harmonies, entwined

like matted hair

unwilling to despair

I wander

among stones

find water

see shapes of the eventual

on the walls of closed eyes

like looking out

through the shell of a sunlit egg—



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*** ** ***



What’s looking back at you from inside your cup?

echoes of delusion & terror?       a small wet likeness,

with scales that tell the future?

it’s easy to project your personal set of eels

onto the dark

but this is Pisces,                                           reformed

sharp fingers grope toward us from the great obsidian pupil of Spring

Earth grieves inside our lungs

gray & questioning


drawn                                 alone

I stoke fires &


no more adolescent desires,                     no touch

or tender moments strung like string beans at a fox’s wedding


I cry inside my mask

in the grocery aisle

make spontaneous puzzles

out of simple acts of being, harbor shock

like broth

steaming in an

earthen bowl

this month is for Spring cold


like plums,                                        is for folding sheets in half light

often, I make tea & argue

with chipped dishes

they seem to bend in my hands along

the slow soapy pull

of the planet’s                  longing

like light

slides around

the optic disc,                                    then refracts,

bearing messages from the burning ash

both of my brains                                          can smell—



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*** ** ***



Eating a handful of snow

in the garden that goes down

rock steps

placed by rough hands into the ground along an invisible line,

a fault

a sudden collapse

where bleeding hearts

used to grow

who is that screaming in the waterlogged wood

of the fire, whose mouth is propagating froth, seething in the smolder of locust limbs?

even piano keys

bow in reverence to humidity, house a heavy

boat that glides through northern nights,

nights a kind of window we look out from

into a bitchy world


burgeon of flower, spore,


car on fire

alarm fills the sweet hot air                     hung like laundry

(snow was a dream

drifting down, like my skin,                    a sparkle of nightmare)

in the sublime, I dig my way back into that decade when

even the mice were sweeter

hidden like gems in our folded clothes

lifetime of basement

tornado sirens then summer berries studding

the edge of woods

who knew                           we’d bury so much

even the tastes                can you imagine

lifted from the tongue

nestled in with bones

in the garden, ex-voto bulbs, garden

I lie down in

to watch

the house collapsing

like an old body,                             water spots disembowel the ceiling, momma’s porch caved in

no appetite left

for shadows

plutonic remembrance                                in lavender fugue

what remains

but the Holy Ghost?

will you hold me now? now that I’ve remembered

at least 3 things about the way

we used to love snow?

will you feel my heart and tell me if

it’s beating too far

away from you?

we were poor; we slept late;

then wandered; forgot

the way out; of ourselves—



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*** ** ***



Beloved, you rock in Cassiopeia’s chair

in a moment lingering like plasma

the buffalo know how a revolution moves

through us seemingly endless cloud

of conscious thought like candle smoke like

how the bottom of a breath gurgles, after all

these years, they say the affliction may never leave

your body, beloved I am lighting candles for you

on the mountain, & the Reaper is sitting in my lap

curling his tail, & what is melting—it is everything,

hot, descending the leg of a table rotating

in space, a lie, a pack of them, claiming invincibility

as Jupiter comes into view, there is nothing simple

about the way the eye perceives a panorama

of horror, the buffalo know, vast plains

horripilate & the eye burns out—



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*** ** ***



Though the loosely bound pages of time seek

to describe our distance, you are here

with me now

slung                    under the arm

of the great stone giant who navigates fate

counting every step you’re taken away from home


where heaps of fabric lie

collecting fungi in the basement


where you smoke a cigarette & hang

your body out the upstairs window

listening to owls

& the drug dealer doing donuts on the lawn next door

in a red truck

like a spell against death

good lord

these greasy days

my mind

in anthills

cymbals strike                              I fold the taste of falling into

into the batter

& though I approach the altar

with hope

& a desire to be loved

I receive only                                                                 smoke


burning oil paintings

& sympathy comes only from the leaves

in my teacup                    a vessel

transporting the unwritten syllabi of skeletons

& all along

the dark corridors of my year,

I trace your name into the stone

our blood leaps, uncounted

faces of fire

silhouettes shift like memories beyond panes of stained glass,

the shattered fragments of blue                             and yellow I receive

though I hesitate

standing like a dark ghost

in the doorway

of the study where

god                        does his hazardous darning—



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*** ** ***



Yes to the notion of sleeping through live birth,

no to the coward’s trail of lighter fluid.

yes to a country of only children,

no to eating grubworms & moss.

yes to spirit,

no to god.

yes to fluttering like a ribbon of incandescence through saline eternities,

no to turtle soup.

yes to paintings with more dismemberment,

no to colonial pride.

no to bunkbeds,

yes to ladders up trees near the abandonment well.

yes yes to eating fire

but never say yes when I plead.

only yes when unintended shades of apricot

bellow softly in a field of helium ringlets on the page,

only yes as we grope for our missing wings.

no to abstract guilt.


yes, please cover my grave in peonies

but rename them,

yes to dead grandmothers who are perfect because we never met them

who will forever remember our faces,

yes, thunder.

yes, cerebellum.

yes, sorrow.

yes, solace.

yes, our remainder,

but without us.

without what is gagged, without secret or sacrifice,

without a key—



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Claire Bowman
is the author of a chapbook titled Dear Creatures (Sutra Press, 2017). She holds an MFA from the Michener Center for Writers, and her work can be found in Black Warrior Review, Narrative Magazine, and The Volta, among other places. Claire works as the Senior Editor at Host Publications, where she also produces a literary podcast called The Host Dispatch. She moonlights as a tarot reader and teacher with Typewriter Tarot in Austin. Follow her on instagram @clairethepoet.


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