Two poems by Erin McIntosh

Brother Where Art Thou

the faulty heart-putter of
animal love not far off
from terror bounces here
in my chest like a rattling
machine, chicken-scratch
symbols of a heart wishing
well. brother when I close
my eyes I see you dead.
please stop showing up
where you are not wanted,
keep me from feeling
this starburst of mother-like
care: oh, boy. oh, brother.
I foresee no summer days
for you. if I am a tiger then
you are something much
smaller not even mammalian.
the urgency to save what
you cannot worsens hourly.
rods of cold despair cut
my face like rain, icy sky
witnessed. I shout out but
you do not answer. how dare
you. how dare you. can’t you
remember?—we were two
sand dollars opposite that
common enemy our parents.
come back to me, brother.
be my family. stick close like
rice. they say that one day
we’ll need this nearness.

 

 

Set

The kind of place no one
chooses. On a piano, rag-
time. On a table, chicken.
Preferably dead. “Wouldn’t
harm a pigeon” is how she
described herself. Like a
bloody sunset: suggested
danger only. I watch her
as I drink my milk. I want
to move closer in toward
the ocean and I think of
telling her this but fear
she might laugh. In and
out, her deathly little ha.

Enough about birds, she
says. Tell me something
original. The suggestion
of this making me gulp.
Glass more-than-half
empty. Her, playing with
a loose fingernail. Me,
seductress to none. The
day I make the first move
is the day I forget who
I am and from where I
came. This is not a happy
thought but a truthful one.

Half-hearted courting
commences and I think
gimme, I think right this
second. In my mind’s
mantelpiece: a photo of
the two of us beneath
dove-ish moon, waves
lapping. I can practically
taste the potential, feel
the combination lock of
two tongues slipping into
mouths like something
grotesque—conjoined
twins, a melancholy
day at the circus when
the wind doesn’t blow
and the lions won’t dance.
 

 

 

Erin McIntosh is a writer and actress currently living in Los Angeles. Her poetry has appeared and is forthcoming in various journals including Bone Bouquet, Lavender Review, Hawai’i Review, Plenitude Magazine, and Speak Easy Mag



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