Three Poems by Beth Bachmann

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so what if I want to spit

paint my hands on your chest to scare up the birds – radiation is a form of light nothing will change this one is not enough two hands on two passageways on either side of the heart stop coughing up blood mine the red earth but not my heart God I hope you don’t think I’m using you as inspiration one of us cannot breathe if you had burnt instead the pit of a fruit I could blow it black through a bone to hide you


the birdcage is gasproof I have an important message for you the birds are wired peace is blind as teargas love your lungs will not collapse but swell how far has the cancer spread in terms of wings try not to think of the ocean as endless the sound of the song is different than the sound of hands on the body you can still whistle when disarmed to warn me the sky is empty space unsuspected all doves come back to this


watch your mouth there is sunlight crying out of my fingertips when the battle comes I want you on my side my god I have flare your head in my hands feels like feathers torn from a wet bird I want to hold you beating in my teeth to silence the seizure let’s make what you say over & over a way of saying your staying enraptured in a cave the brain wants out you’ve made me a map of impulse there’s not enough spit for a nest let’s make what you say over & over a way of saying asylum

Beth Bachmann is a 2016 Guggenheim Fellow in poetry and the author of three books from the Pitt Poetry Series: Temper, winner of the AWP Donald Hall Prize and Kate Tufts Discovery Award, Do Not Rise, winner of the Poetry Society of America’s Alice Fay di Castagnola Award, and CEASE, winner of the VQR Emily Clark Balch Prize (forthcoming Fall 2018).

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