PoetryWinter 2021-2022

Two Poems — Katie Hartsock


He took the woman who’d handed him gym towels
to the back of Beaver Creek State Park’s tall grass.
Let’s make a little cyborg. How many alcohol
swabs have I torn and touched like a cool mustache
to my skin, with its infusion sites, red marks
of crayoned hearts tilted, medicinally.
Tonight I measure insulin, press start,
and hear my body beep. All its batteries

are ready. And if the world runs out it will be
a slow decline. I came from a grotto created
by the bodies of a man who would always need
more and a woman who could do any job she could get
so well that soon nobody did it better than her
until something would happen and it would be over.

Poem Titled Something Like ‘Windows’

but not that. Something less kind, that knows
more about necessities. Our chipmunks
are fearless, tenacious, keen, like avant-garde
aaaaaaaaaor Russian modernist poets
taking tea and bread and rumors of what it means
to be human and making them true in a poem in a kitchen,
blue tea towels hung on the door secret police
will kick down.
aaaaaaaaaaaaaI do and don’t want to get rid
of their chirps patrolling our perimeters
as they stare and grind their vigilante teeth.
They would turn us in,
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafor a minimal reward.
Our blonde toddler started saying fuck and before
I realized it’s really best to ignore I tried
to discipline—every time, I took a toy away,
and the day my arms got full so fast I couldn’t hold them all
I felt like Principal Gleason in The Breakfast Club
giving seven detentions to Bender. And I thought well this
can’t be right.
aaaaaaaaaaaaBut I understood the man for a moment,
the old-fashioned river of him going dry, cracking
his voice’s demands: I am helping you,
this is all for you, you, you are innocent.
In our apartment on Catalpa,
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayears before
we married, our bedroom window faced a brick wall,
thick with ivy, flecked with birds like music notes
on a scale that breathed. From that room, from that bed, I watched
breezes float the palm-shaped leaves. I wanted to
mark those afternoons down as
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaathe kind of punch
that gets thrown for good, a far-flung flag of peace,
some small force for life and all its smallest claims.

Katie Hartsock is the author of Bed of Impatiens (Able Muse, 2016). Her work has recently appeared in Kenyon Review, Ecotone, The Threepenny Review, POETRY, 32 Poems, Thrush, The New Criterion, Greensboro Review, Image, Birmingham Poetry Review, and Nimrod, and is forthcoming in Iron Horse Literary Review, The Raintown Review, and Plume. She is an assistant professor of English at Oakland University and lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with her husband and sons. Her second book of poems, Wolf Trees, is forthcoming from Able Muse Press in late 2022.

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