“and even you forgot those brilliant flashes seen from afar” -Ruth Stone

Ode to My Lover’s Armpit

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I have found
the secret cave
longed for
by explorers
the cave with
paintings of now-
extinct trees
with dark, frenzied
reaching this way
and that
toward the
in the sky

O, locus of
From your branches
the body sings
of terrestrial
and practical
The song’s
counsel runs
spiral canals
into my brain
where it
an old
and beautiful

Here there is no
velocity that is
anything other
than the body’s

At the moment
its motion
is decidedly
A river runs
under the cave
It swells and
stills and
It is
No parson
though it is
under a white

The odorous
musk of your
causes my own
verdure to grow
I rest my cheek
in your forest
and breathe
the mad scent
of suspended

and when I kiss
your river
my loins
on the bank

There is a
of sweet mud
if I allow
myself to
of salt
on my
from the sea

which is everyone’s


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Come along the moon-road. The crowd of stars
is silent, the cold places vast.
No devil will give chase in your brain.
No wind will bite your eyes.
On the moon-road we weave through beams

of original thought, light so close
we can see its particles. Some of the motes
pause on our faces. In this manner,
we are our own moons, and our children,
long after we are dead, will look up to find us.


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You scooped up handfuls of your mother one Easter Sunday. You stood on a cold beach and tossed.  The wind blew her back onto your body, into the seams of your shoes (igniting, you did not know at the time, a decade-long crisis re. what to do with them). Thinking she was food, the gulls came.

1.9 decades later you find yourself scooping up handfuls of your father on a chartered lobster boat. The sun presides over all, blankly, blessings and whatnot coming out of its mouth. Scattering is illegal, so the captain maneuvers out of sight from land, behind the lighthouse, and cuts the engine. Take that, shithead gulls! Your children are delighted by the allowable littering of roses. Your father is cold. There’s a bit of bone.

A friend had sent a note: that night at your reading I felt your mother’s presence and she clearly told me to tell you she’s proud. You’d had a glass of wine afterward. I know that sounds weird.

Love for them has made your heart permanent. It dashes itself against the cliffs, gray and vertically veined with mica. The earth is stuck in a tectonic shrug: these things happen. You don’t begrudge the captain, who needs to cover his ass: he shows the children a lobster, explains how the feathers are the clue that it’s female. Huh. Lobsters can swim up to thirty miles per hour, which is fast, but you would like to point out not as fast as the suits who zip up the dead.

Later, you return home to the city and watch the glue fall off the stars. There’s a man on the subway whose face you want to touch.

Appears in this issue

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Joanna Solfrian’s 2009 collection, Visible Heavens, received the Wick First Book Poetry Prize, judged by Naomi Shihab Nye.

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