for GS



Someone put an end

to all these weathers. Someone hold

a mirror up against these rains.

       Every grief I carry is a reflecting


pool surfaced, slit jagged

       by the stone asking is this

a metaphor, is every metaphor

    an action or cliché. Once a little love


knew me so I lived in open doors.

  Someone take these hinges

as excuses aimed at keys. I keep

saying better & I keep


hearing bitter, is this action

a metaphor or a cliché.

You were saying. & I lived inside that open

         dooring myself


against the possibility of

      your saying as an action that ends.

You were. Saying every agony

      is a beauty, the cards


give me their sympathy,

     which is a way of saying how

I should feel. I should

feel. Another morning is


another year is another

   collection of papercuts & spare

buttons. When I lived with you I lived

                   against the possibility


that all living is a door that opens

            into a nothing & forever

a pale little Friday

             tied up within its bands of rain.




    augury & ether / under the eternal

sky dialed quiet / after summer ruined its own dress


with rainspill & God / portioned out to his paupers

the paper skinning their trees / after the infant who

learned how to kneel before walking / before cherry


said its reds to the fields / was sky a direction or a

warning / were there nests beneath the great claws

of a system / we identified as beast bent by cloudface


the bracken insistence / of a season putting itself to

shame & then to bed too / early for the worms to

become dinner to be / beaked a hawk with an August


caught in its throat / throttled & hungered & anger

the bread the village laid out for its poor / the bad

blood- / smithing the temple in which every familiar


morphed into feather / the only kind / of motion

allowed is being / which is breaking which / is

restless as all living is / pointed towards its agonies


its endings like agate stoned heavy / in the mouth

a word / the hare scalped before the first full rumor

of plague / this the forbidden this / the thunder


we asked for without the rain / we needed but did

not ask for / a god understands the needs / of a god

aren’t the needs of a man or / the fields & their


fallows an endless flock / of factories & Wednesdays

we call upon God / as the father the thunder / beg

in every solemn pronunciation / the process of living


is the process of fading / on the edge of / apocalypse

where every bone makes its human / makes its home.

Cloture/October 2018



I take pills to control the way my body controls sugar

and then eat ice cream for supper. Peppermint stick. I

don’t care. Why should I care? If you have taught me

anything America it is that I am not to be cared

about. To be cared for. Why shouldn’t I agree. Why

shouldn’t I capitulate when the fire you built burns

from inside of this body. The television prophesies

that the body of this country will burn itself left to

right and right to left, the television is the flint and the

torch and the hand that burns the body of its self, left

to right and right to left. When he couldn’t come he

said it’s you it’s your fault it’s you and he wasn’t

talking to his fifth Jack on ice but by the seventh he

decided blame was as good as a blow job it’s you

there’s something wrong with you. Outside a woman

was crying. I could not determine if that woman was

me. Outside a woman is always outside. If a

government is representation of the people by the

people, then a woman has no government. A black

human has no government. A brown human a queer

human has no government. Outside a woman scales

the scales of liberty. She flags her fist in the air.

Outside a woman says what did he do grope her, so

groping is illegal now, give me a break. Outside a

woman is being groped. She did not give her consent

and she is not given a break. When he said if you

aren’t going to fuck me why am I even here I cried in

the bathroom with the faucet then cold-watered the

pink from my cheeks. Outside a woman stands in

a blue suit raises one hand recites testifies to the truth

one hundred percent and afterwards my America

every one of us your women walked white-lipped into

the hells we had been keeping so perfectly inside.

Indelible in the hippocampus. The uproarious

laughter. A country of white men who’d blade open

blue veins to prove the blood inside beat red. In the

drum of a heart beating down the lack that is night

how fast a woman’s mind shaves down a phrase,

turns his fault into hers. The uproarious laughter

indelible on the hips of a country that bends at the

waist, screams the mirror, holds the slick of a blade

against the beat of blood in her throat. A senator

reads to an empty room, the camera eyed wide as a

country Kavanaugh is a good man he’s a good man

but in my conscience I could not conclude. This happened. I

was twelve. I was five. I was fifteen sixteen twenty-

four eight and a half, I was almost to my car the keys

teeth between fingers I was wearing a pinafore an

overcoat leather pants nothing a suit I was almost to

the car to the sunset to the hospital to tell him to fuck

off and take his Budweiser with him. I was almost but

not yet ready almost but not yet home almost dressed

almost seventeen. I was taught to say I wasn’t raped

so it’s okay I don’t remember wasn’t I why would I

say it otherwise. A woman is always outside. A

senator speaks I hope that we have all learned something,

that we owe it to the victims. The camera eyed. The

room’s emptiness indelible as this country is its own


Emma Bolden is the author of three full-length collections of poetry—House Is An Enigma (Southeast Missouri State University Press), medi(t)ations (Noctuary Press) and Maleficae (GenPop Books)—and four chapbooks. She received a 2017 Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. A Barthelme Prize and Spoon River Poetry Review Editor’s Prize winner, her work has appeared in The Best American Poetry, The Best Small Fictions, and Poetry Daily as well as such journals as the Mississippi Review, The Rumpus, StoryQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, New Madrid, TriQuarterly, Conduit, the Indiana Review, Shenandoah, the Greensboro Review, Feminist Studies, Monkeybicycle, The Pinch, and Guernica. She currently serves as Associate Editor-in-Chief of Tupelo Quarterly.