Scorched Earth



I’m sorry I’ve been busy

trying to poop in utter darkness,

trying to blow smoke out an opening

screen window, blue light bleeding


from my devices. I wish I could

apologize without. My mouth reddens,

full of ghosts I’ve brushed blue

with toothpaste; loose bristles,


bloodied roots, beard trimmings

I used to lay under my pillow

with teeth. We argue about how

to replace possessions


with bread and bones. We swear

they’re not the same as childhood

traumas fixed years ago. Before we

blow two-choked, I pick up your body


language, scraps you planted

under burning tongues. What

do you call an invasion escaping

an untriggered paradise? I pick up


our smoking gun again. I shoot

gestures like green leaves. Only male

gods threaten to burn everything

they love out of jealousy.

Matthew Olive‘s poems can be found in After the Pause, Yellow Chair Review, Epigraph Magazine, and elsewhere. He currently serves as a reader for Barely South Review and recently won the 2018-2019 ODU College Poetry Prize.