Jul/Aug 2009 Poetry

Two Poems

by Katie Tunning

Forget It All

Forget the part where you claimed
I was poisoning you in your sleep.
Forget that I admitted it.

Forget the bullhorn, the kitchen fire,
the champagne flutes lurid
with gasoline;

the airborne arc of dishes
toward the floor;

forget the unclaimed
gray teeth
splitting in the sink;

forget it all: the telling entrails,
the unlit oven,
the gravel in the milk—

I had no idea the giving over
would be so bloody.
Had I anticipated

the shape of your two hands
descending on me: "It's like you've never won anything

And the apologies coming one after another,
like sneezes,
requiring my blessing.



I lie in a field lit red,
a hand clutching
blindly above my head

for what leverage remains
as you lower yourself, steel
to the flint of refusal.

You don't know that your head is bowed
or how the sword twists on its thread.

The fire will peel away your ornament.
Scalp, blue-tinted curve of bone,
jaw laid down like a collar:

burn what was touched,
what was untouched,
the fertile places down to ash.

Your hands rise in the shimmer of heat, familiar
hands, naming and renaming victory.

Our mothers and fathers laid themselves down
like bricks around us. No use:
moths dropping softly

from the lead-seamed sky.
Powdered white soft-bodied.
Silk stuttering on.


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