The river behind my apartment is lazy gray

and full of plastic. No one fishes there,


not the kids who grew up fishing,

not the parents who climb Sunday stairs.


On clear days, waterfowl come

to those who tend chickens, those people


who take thick bites of apples, keep the chickens

close to their hearts. Nightjars land


on porches, watch the bodies

pray in the dark. Sometimes a deer emerges


by the river, dips into the water, parched.




My dresser drawer collects its wings:


little evil, little dopamine. I feel it rattling

in the far corner of the room.


I pocket the busheled maroon

stolen from my neighbor’s yard, insular mark,


my blinds picked apart at the edges.

I strike matches, slam latches on the door.


Oath-maker, sun-taker, barrel full

of burning leaves.


Lion’s-eye, devil-sky, Sunday best

with bended knees.




Dougherty Bridge hangs behind the tracks

like a still life lacking magic.

A mother covers her child’s bare feet

beside the polluted creek, a cast

around her wrist, simple robin’s nest

tucked in a gap in the overpass.


There’s no dignity in paraphrase.

There’s a broken rake and five men

in masks by the stadium.

There’s a trapdoor in the manor across town

that drops down to a crisis bunker

stocked with rifles and rations.


I hear the street talker’s last sermon.

I bury my face in my hands screaming fire, fire, fire.

Jacob Griffin Hall was raised outside of Atlanta, Ga and lives in Columbia, Mo, where he works as poetry editor for The Missouri Review. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in New South, DIAGRAM, New Ohio Review Online, New Orleans Review, The Carolina Quarterly, and other journals.