HeartWood Broadside Series 2016 Finalists
(selected by 2017 judge, Maggie Anderson)
I used to shake tree limbs.
I used to make beets slip
off their skin under cold water,
say sugar, when they tried
to say dirt. I owned the widow’s
peak of his hair, I owned every hornet
that nested humming, restless,
underneath my threshold.
I spoke cranes to the edge
of a quiet lake, folded their wings
shut against the swoop
of their bodies, fed them fish
slick and silver from my lungs.
Now I use my days to count
your breaths, I still my hands
and lighten my sleep, I mortgage
myself for the rise of your chest.
Maggie Blake Bailey has poems published or forthcoming in The San Pedro River Review, Tar River Poetry, Tinderbox, and elsewhere. Her chapbook, Bury the Lede, is available from Finishing Line Press and at Amazon.com. She has been nominated for The Pushcart and also for The Best of the Net. For more work, please visit www.maggieblakebailey.com.
The Road to Bethlehem
I still worry about the shepherds. Have they
brought along enough food? How tired
their feet must be, if it’s true they come from
where they say they do. Two are older,
bearded, in love with the same woman. And one,
still a boy and new to this work, says the stars
would remind him of the holes in his tent
if he had a tent. See how they hang above him?
Some behind a tissue of cloud, some so bright
he thinks just raising his arm
he could touch one and it would go out.
Matthew Thorburn is the author of six collections of poems, including Dear Almost and the chapbook A Green River in Spring. He lives in New York City.