Sunday Jul 14

PeterTwal Peter Twal is the author of Our Earliest Tattoos, winner of the Etel Adnan Poetry Prize, forthcoming from the University of Arkansas Press in 2018. His poetry has appeared in Best New Poets, Kenyon Review Online, West Branch Wired, Ninth Letter Online, Gulf Coast, Bat City Review, and elsewhere. He is a recipient of the Samuel and Mary Anne Hazo Poetry Award.

The Conversation’s Winding Away

All my friends chorus-line       Don’t make us wait
in the tall       grass, wringing the sweat       from my shirt    
then the shirt from my shirt       Deep down,
we both know
there aren’t enough
suspender belts in the world       to keep this car
on the road       I give my wings to a half-buried baby
bird I stumble over        
while overhead, a plane explodes        
My dear heart,       you tell me, let’s be brave       but I’m ten years
late to a class reunion         & the PA system won’t stop singing
the hits, noosing
your name       around
my neck

If You’re Worried about the Weather

If a knife wound
tattoo is all it takes to pull
together       this look
If down the back of an ear,       fingertips beaded with sweat
If wrapped in cellophane       If I can’t hear anything
outside of my own voice         my own voiceless—
If you’re swimming through an argument
in laugh tracks       If a handful of your yellowing

teeth dropped in a vase,       nutrients for roses      
If it’s called hide-&-go

nothing       when left in the cupboard
If you donate blood to a specter
through a straw until       you passed out
If the sky’s more       penny than pound

You Drop the First Ten Years Just as Fast as You Can

I’m the rain man of counting eyelashes

About that year in high school—these neon
sideburn scars will never
go away       & you’re still eating that make up wrong      

Across the table       I am calling home
each time I open a phone book
& slam my finger down on a different
page number       I never knew Death        

had class reunions, sweat       spots, got nervous       Did you      
sleep best when you were someone’s favorite

nuance       when you were the hurricane
nobody thought to name

It’s Better When We Pretend

Did you read the funnies today     Everywhere around us,       the universe contracts
a cold         Sneezing out stars, planets, comets       This is a real asthma attack

of a bar you’ve picked        Restroom rehearsal     twelve cigarettes in my mouth, the words
underwater       Is the toilet spilling over       Is someone beating off
the hinges of this stall       Next door       in a theater,

the decomposed actor can’t remember her lines

or limbs       & at arm’s length, her director signals the undisputed       symbol for stop, drop, &
roll over       A possum

on the side of the road       A million-dollar picture
deal in the pocket of a poorly fitting human       suit

You Always Knew You were Tired

If I have to       relearn       my body I will
with a mother’s amazement       clapping together her baby’s feet

If with a mother’s amazement clapping together her baby’s feet
I relearn my body—