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Volume 12 • Number 1 • Spring - Summer 2020

Brian Baumgart


We spent the day in Custer searching for burros,
the survivors, at least,
those who burned but didn’t
burn enough to erase them from this continent
of barren hills and fields. My son pointed
to a field of yellow flowers and we looked
out windows, the smudge of fingertips blurring
the glass. The burros, we’d been told, love the roads,
the people who come to see them if they can
overlook the bison
but they stayed distant, ghosted shadows
cresting hilltops, their long ears black
against the fading light of the day. We were tired
of searching in all the easy places, and the other ghosts
were coming out to watch us all. It’s simple magic
to turn off your eyes to something in the darkness.

I Wish You All the Joy of Everything

The photograph on the first page of the newspaper
looks back at me like a naked shadow
built of bruises, a pummeling
of the layers below the dermis

and we are told
to stop resisting

as if our appetite for tomorrow has been quenched, as if breathing
is always silent in the backrooms where memory cuts
slits into our eyes so we see more than

nothing can hurt you again.

The mouth of the queen yawns in honor of your death,
revealing the soft pink fruit inside, for just a moment before
clamping shut, tightening the noose of teeth

indifferent to our forgetting, our remembering, to who looks back
from inside our cold bodies playing spectacle.

The Halo and the Crown

If you let me hold you close,
I’ll tell you how our blood
is a roadmap to reverie.

I’ll make a joke about speedbumps.

If you let me hold you
at a distance, your eyes
will free me from ruin.

I’m not sorry for being sentimental, for a wish
that forgetting was only silent
drumming at the end of the march.

Brian Baumgart’s poetry collection, Rules for Loving Right, was released from Sweet Publications in 2017, and his writing has appeared in or forthcoming in a number of journals, including South Dakota Review, Cleaver, Whale Road Review, and Ruminate. He is the Director of the Creative Writing Program at North Hennepin Community College, near Minneapolis, and is 2018 Artist-in-Residence at University of Minnesota's Cedar Creek Ecological Science Reserve. For more:
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