Online Exclusive

Five Poems
Not So Far

ahead as I thought I was
the color on the edge
of cloudbreak I was
went on without me

Pearlescent room
smallest room
in a spiral shell

I cut the thread tied to me
to drag through the chambers proving
someone else’s ingenuity

            greasy honey bloody

English             without greeting
for vulture or mole

hating returning                        hating blindness
returning and blind
I have not loved

what I would see before I looked—necessary, I’m told,
to see at all.

Bees and swallows in books
do up their lives
in mud and hiding       
                        in the leaves of pulped trees
I go where oaks went walking once
before divinity pressed

Every sanctum left—even shattering sex
is water pouring from its culvert rife
with agents deemed safe                       

Safe For Now

cryptogram on the crest
of Limited Liability       on the crest of everything
easy to decipher

I read instead the stories of those elders careful
not to foul a spider’s web
and sense I have been fabricated            
for a future       that never arrives

In the room of not yet
my son doesn’t guess he’s entered we make
the nonce sounds not words and laugh
like the spores the purposes
don’t ride our breath

Meanwhile the innovators the innovators go on
creating new uses for shells

My love when your voice
fell from its echo
like a seed from its hull
my lateness lit up the cliffs
of capital, and clitoral cotyledons broke from my skin

That was the nth day     I broke
from the blister pack
the pill for rest
and didn’t take it

choice that nevertheless
drove the drills and pumps

I admit I’m tied up again           barely feel my strings
have some range

But no, we will not reach each other
though we were sorted long ago
onto the same level

where the improvements come common as clouds
dragging their ladders across the ground
squaring forests straightening rivers pushing glass gone imageless
into great shattered piles

and when I seem to remember
cloud-shadows fed once from my hand
I am told not to worry the loose ends

many threads

many threads

tied to me I can’t break I’m afraid

to follow them all the way


Ducdame, Ducdame, Ducdame

I have in common with old window glass
a pleasant warping
of whatever forces through

In this sickly light the defanged
dogs slurp their sludges. I intone as taught
“Here no mystery is”

go on dragging the cracked iron bell without tongue,
harnessed to me at birth                        rest
clandestinely when I can to listen—

“Authenticity” and “Responsibility”—
the crackle of their packaging impossible to open                                              

Don’t please
report my fantasy
of reverse engineering the old ways
                                                last seen escaping
into a canyon just then sunk behind a dam

Brother and sister by dependency,
            our sibling antipathy,  
            our little piles

When I tap on my pad
the figures that smother fear      it is you

smiling at me through the glass,
acting out your lives for my enjoyment
just as if I were not there at all,

swiftly reintegrating me


Joy of the Worm!

I need meanders and
long dull lulls.

The lyre in the lobby calms
the organ donors and

the soft targets pre-rampage.

I am calmed. I begin
Soft-Target Soliloquy. It’s about really living now
in the pictures they will post of me

when I am a hollow-point-popped bag
too gruesome to retweet.

I must have this most lonely stupid look
on my face that makes you hunger to lecture me.
I can see you do it out of heartfelt pity.

Toddler-like, you grab greasily
for my heartstrings like grabbing for
a lyre left out in a lobby.

I must be pitiably wall-eyed,
my clobbered face
must be the very racquetball wall you so desperately need
to clobber your own rubbery voice off of repeatedly.

Perhaps it’s because you saw me
as a hectare of shitty second-growth to
suburbanize in my youth

that I have asked my stylist to sculpt my hair
into a wild and desolate scene.
I got the #5 on the top and the #3 on the bottom
and a coupon for mousse,

decoction endorsed by character actors
who once played the trainers of fighter pilots
in feature-length Cold War defense spending advertisements.

Defense spending is a lozenge.
It is mentholated radium.

I need it because I am a “low-use segment.”
Because I have a virus called Meritocracy.
Because I have a sty called Puritanism.

I’m repeatedly urged to climb,
but an owner up there has barb-wired the bluff-line.
He has placed a bell on a post on the bluff-line.
My son has dubbed it “a tiny mushroom” for which I joy in him

Daily the owner rings out a decomposing,
bangs his gong of mucky swelling,
raising a mildewy ballooning,
sporous reverberation:

No Trespassing

Short Answer Segment Key

1. Summarize the Constitution of the United States in two words.
A: No Trespassing

2. Summarize the Bill of Rights in one word.
A: Depends

But did you not walk all morning
over seven former tobacco farms plowed
over Indian mounds later designated by the state
a conservation area so you might remark at your leisure
the wormy threads un-knitting
the blackened fruit of a fallen walnut?

I did.

Did you not ruminate mid-air (mid-life)
on the comfort of your complimentary launching from
The Catapult of Others’ Incarceration?

I did.

Did you not mash into your mouth
honey-dripping fragments from
the Hive of Chinese Labor.


You are slickly pastoral as a Founding Father. You are ripe
refulgent brainless expensive
as an heirloom tomato in a posthumous journal.

Admit it, you can only bear to discourse on your privilege
from the comfortable distance of second person,
from the Bar Association of second person,
from the Chamber of Commerce.

(I have never brought a gun onstage,
but I did by accident tote a sprig of Indian Paintbrush
into the instantly furiously hushed
Chamber of Commerce,
said chamber having affection for neither
People There First nor
Instruments of Pleasure)

I admit, between credit default swaps, I muse on
the orchards buried under

the corporate architecture
my uncle admires.

He wishes the stadium were not adjacent the International District
where incense emanating from doorways sometimes swells
the #1 foam hand he carries as talisman
against places 2-n.

Unashamed of his prodigious waste, ineradicably
hearty, he is a bludgeony

The White people I know hate pigeons and
are more pigeon-like than
pigeons themselves.

I am by turns a pigeon
and an equestrian statue whose accomplishments
are long forgotten, smiling manifestly
in my chalky shit-cap.

I, King of Misprision,
am crowned with a white scalp-paste
squeezed through a gray, winged tube
(pigeon tract).

I am the Frederick Goddard Tuckerman
of the suburbs.

I am the Trumbull Stickney
of a hog’s swollen useless mammary.
Green milk of money I drink thee and
drink thee.

I am Paul Celan of Great Cuts
I am Paul Celan of Super Clips

I am addressing you from an airport television.

I am stepchild of W. Blitzer.
Wolf B. of shirtlessness in kitchens.

The sound of his name!

Stand back, I am cuffed, I am bludgeoned! The pigeon wings
clobber my face!

Soon, I (with any luck)
with R. Marauder will come to lie
in the biggest grave-stadium in Camden, NJ.
Screw universal hieroglyphics!

Yet may not Irony be a dozer on a landfill, pushing
the pile to make room for tenderer noticings?
            walking stick
            leaned long
            in the doorway,
            to the top.
The road-crushed hawk’s wings applaud
as a diesel blows by.

And thus, having failed
to invent the glass toothbrush
with saw grass bristles,

I will devote myself to singlehandedly saving the Everglades
from walking catfish,
being myself a sort of walking

invasive as monoculture,
showy with loneliness.

When my feet move my mind goes blank.
I am scenting my way
up a thought-falls to find my birth-smear,
where I will lay

useless as
a hash brown
to a honeybee.

God, look at me
carrying home hulking bags
of the machine-shredded, flash-frozen, shrink-wrapped,

It’s worse to be Sisyphus in an elevator.
Sisyphus in a side-car.
Sisyphus in a space-station
cut off by a war on Earth,
his bones jellies.

The basil seeds he brought to plant on the moon
are like an envelope of dehydrated midges.

The thought of death to me
is an envelope of dehydrated midges.

I snort them and see vultures
devour the cake of penis and earwax
I was.
It nearly terrifies.

I am Prester B,
Presbyter of Pebbles,
of the shinies in the shallows.
I am a casino that loses money

on its really truly edible
shrimp wads, on its slots and craps,
on its everything.
[Sound of a snail crunched underfoot by
a greasy-curious child

            signaling jackpot]

[Sound of interstate engines deafening owls
to mice tunneling under snow

            signaling jackpot]

[sound of lake ice cracking under a pickup toting
an ice house and a camera useful for spearing
pike with a steel trident (no joke)

            signaling jackpot]

Nevertheless, please like this
link to me waving goodbye:

Lumpen Poseidon, a little bored
in the up-market porno,

of quoting, in flagrante delicto,
the golden sayings of U.S. Crow:

“Those pancakes or that mustard …”
“… as pigeons feed their young …”

“Then shall we be crammed!”


Mice do worse

in a maze gazed on by a fake
       On a nearby hill, meat
hides in sleeping buffalo
                                      like work
hides in sleeping me.

“Striving is natural,” say
the rulemakers’ children. “Dead battery-heavy,”
you said of your heart. “I didn’t
taste my coffee,” I said, surprised it was gone.

We drove
to the drive-in graveyard,
the window speaker so dead no dead Emerson came on
                        to tell us how to rely.

I spoke unwarmly and heard
            great chunks of the day’s cliff
                                                crumbling off,

sat still like
a friend after surgery
            afraid to try the hand
                        whose clicking it was supposed to stop.


Lost Chord

Maybe there would be an idea there was
            barbed wire
broken by
wind’s mad strumming

                                    lost chord with
low E of black-cold
                        creek through deep
snow    somehow still reverberating

            with Clark’s writing desk
tumbled off a mule down the precipice

on the north side of every cliff
                        sharply outlined then like
the million seasons of sun
                                    in one rattlesnake

and hidden like a rattlesnake under snow
in the child the cold
on his infant face between
car and dark night house on far frozen prairie

            In the pack, his laugh
                                          at my shadow-hand
            for the yellow plastic bottle
                                          dropped in canyon sand—

figure for awakening

Brandon Krieg is the author of the forthcoming poetry collection Magnifier, winner of the 2019 Colorado Prize for Poetry, as well as two other collections of poems. He is a founding editor of The Winter AnthologyHe teaches at Kutztown University and lives in Kutztown, PA.