West End & Wonderland

The backyard fences
all in thrall, grass a stranger’s and lovelier
for it, panorama of green and paranormal
constellations. Yes I’d say he’s beautiful, walking
that big black pup in sunlight’s sleepy filter,
and gentle. He is the next best thing to ghost.

Praise to pools and pools of uneasy bright
slipping braless up the staircase.
Praise and forgiveness to the bashful smile
of overambitious smoke-rings.

Yes I’d say her hair
is like a grain silo lit through burlap,
fresh and dizzy as the hilt of a knife.
The novelty of singing because a city’s name
is in the music and we’re submerged dancing
slippery, limbs a communal afterthought.

Our reckless mouth-wonder clawing at the stars
our overture unraveling like so much possibility.

Postcolonial analysis of a John Mayer song, meanwhile
futures splitting in a loft as if the world
exists actually and is ending as this
fantastical Nashville skyline drifts
the edge of metaphor.

Blessed 24-hour omelet cartoons
and the vegetarian patio sculpture.
Blessed crushed ice fingering the cup.

Blossoming lake of cancer called love
tonight feels more stillness and electrical,
as simple as a bowl, or something costumed in wings

or the heartfelt finality of the Midwest.
It’s important now to hurt.


Erin Slaughter holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Western Kentucky University. She has been a finalist for Glimmer Train’s Very Short Fiction Contest, and was nominated for a Best of the Net Award and a Pushcart Prize. You can find her writing in River Teeth, Bellingham ReviewSundog LitTishman Review, and elsewhere. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks: Elegy for the Body (Slash Pine Press, 2017), and the forthcoming GIRLFIRE (dancing girl press, 2018), and is editor and co-founder of literary journal The Hunger. She lives and teaches writing in Nashville.


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