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JL Conrad

Poem in Which Terror Leaves the Kitchen



The city impels itself into the atmosphere

at 18.5 miles per second, buildings scratching

at the air. See how the sky leans in. The window

closed but still you can feel the weight.

I should confess that lately I’ve felt kind of

heartless, as if I were the one stretched

on the slab, chest laid open in a harsh light.

These days I sleep fitfully, if at all. In my spare

time, I set about making soufflés, determined

not to let them fall. There is little to nothing

to say. Stay: as in here with me. My heart’s-

weight pulls. I hadn’t intended to be mis-

read in quite that direction. This time I dream

of a white horse that can go forty miles

without stopping. A horse is a good thing

to have around. In case you’re wondering.





Poem in Which You Leave Me at the Shopping Mart



You leave me at the shopping mart. I see

your taillights. They announce your departure

over the loudspeaker. My hands

develop minds of their own, and here

I should add at odds with each other. I no longer

peel oranges, and mascara trails its antpaths

from lashes to cheeks. As if hashing lines

where my skin could unhinge itself, open

windows to a red beginning. You can’t go

around the country like that. Ahead, wind rustles

the curtain of leaves. Night with its eyemasks.





Poem in Which Everything is a Lie



It’s time to make sweeping assertions. I know

how it ends: clocks stopped, buses reeling, the air

aquiver. There’s only one way to go about this

life. Bleach will take out the stain. You shouldn’t

have to move until you’re good and ready. I can

spell anything; just ask me. I have two heroes

stashed in the closet for a rainy day. Don’t worry,

I know how to pick a lock. Dogs will chase

anything if you let them. Show me a card trick

and I will tell you your hidden name through clenched

teeth so as not to spill too much. There are no

secrets between us. What we want is the same

at all times. I am almost never afraid.



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