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Ashley Capps



There is a thing

some men will ache to do

and break themselves

against their lives and lovers, trying.

Women, too, have lost

their grip, having endeavored

or accomplished it.  The devil

threads his needle,

and the string’s a river

fat with fish

that wanted other words for it.






He is the carpenter and the cook.

What is she?

She talks too much.

She points out individual clouds

on the river’s surface.  She walks

too slow.  All the trees

stuck under the old train bridge

since last May’s flood won’t budge.

That shit aint going nowhere

without dynamite, he says, and spits.  He knows

he talks like that.  Rough, it is a way

of seeming reckless and indifferent.

It endears him to her, and she thinks

the river will fix itself.





There is about to be a blizzard.

A helicopter is flying over.

A man is taking a woman’s picture

inside the gazebo,

saying, less prostitute, more


and she’s saying, I’m not

against moonlight, I’m all for it,

and he’s laughing hysterically

taking close-ups of her hair

which looks like a cloud

because of the snowflakes

sticking to it and everything else,

including the sign that says

this park is up for adoption

in case you’re interested,

but I wouldn’t adopt this park—

no one picks up the dog poop

and everything’s weird here,

even the rabbit in the snow

beneath the basketball goal,

looking at it like he’s contemplating

a shot.


These poems originally appeared in MISTAKING THE SEA FOR GREEN FIELDS (U of Akron P, 2006).

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