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Two Poems
Apocryphal Will

—after Peter Gizzi

To the woodland-dwelling currier who fizzes my blood, I leave the myth of Daphne, that he might notice the trees’ paralytic lurching.

Lurching allowed me unspeakable joys.

Spur the horse to make him mind, etc.

To my horse, I leave apple-colored pillow talk and recurring nightworlds at mosseries, hoofprints indentions in the spongework which darken, rise, then disappear again.

The horse is lamed and in my head.

There’s the swarthy currier prodding it, reaching to pull the mane, a ribbon of flesh exposed above his waist.

To the Mennonite woman who sold me must in a flannel shirt, I leave a charlatan’s knack for cloaking scar.

To the angel busy flagellating itself (in the dayroom) (in the wood room) I leave my dilettante knowledge of skinning a squirrel.

To my father, photographic evidence of recent kill and

To the orphans’ butcher, the bodies.

My body now is hemmed by the breath of loved ones and I’ve a simple heart.

To cruelty, I leave a granary, many-beaded/-bodied.

I can’t answer the phone if I’m expecting the sound of soles in sunburnt grasses.

To the grasses, the secret to brotherhood.

To my brother, a cowprod and the flagellating angel, as a friend.

My friend likes to tell me how to make a man come using only a gas station rose (sold in a vial).

We must ready ourselves against loneliness by covering our ears to the mercury clatter of its hooves.

To my son, earmuffs.

To the muffled stain on the sleeve, clear loud vinegar.

The first time I tasted vinegar, my head didn’t jerk, but I wanted distinctly then to be a daughter, so as to be consoled.

If you don’t believe me, good dissimulation to you and your noctuary, blood in your sweat rag, sopping malingering

To truth I leave

It’s a secret I watched my brother clomp down the stairs each morning hazy mapping where his feet fell, silvering the carpet, and that I collected thumbtacks.

To my weimaraner, the scent of rut a boot disinters when it swathes through fallen chestnut spines.

The mummery implicit and now implanted each time they encounter powdered milk, to my lovers,

I starved myself to the pallor of old fruit until you bent down to smell my cheek. I hadn’t wept at all.


Litany: Lord I strove but could not change

and looked to the moonwashed
river, its raving hollowness
a twin to the pocket watery

between my lungs, Lord of fullness, sharp
flagging blue crescents beneath
the eye, Lord of it will be

time, time, Lord divination of the soul is
suspect because Lord
a single thing is enslaved by its need

to latch onto something, vaster Lord
of the choke weed, marsh reed,
the awl-billed leggy bird, Lord

of flocking, eventually a guess hits
at least the outer flutter of
the thing you’re after, Lord

of skewed feather in that wing, Lord
running bare into a hall
of shifting vines, Lord

aeried at the top of the tulip
poplar, Lord of the roan
hour, of grave-clover, of

skin, that skins, Lord of never
the same punishment
thrice, Lord of two realms,

one gripe, Lord of
acrophobia, custodial Lord who underlines
the warnings on signposts, Lord

the moldering log sour-breathed
Lord, I’m reminded I am a citizen here
constantly, Lord in particular of

many good departures, of
figs’ fickle sugar, the wasps
which tong into them and dissolve,

if sweetness is a mask Lord I must choose
my portions carefully, Lord of
the inaudible bottom-feeders,

of sluice gates gunmetal Lord
of quick replacement for the answer
is simple, Lord of misdirection, who

lights the wrong candle at the angels’
vigil, Lord of the wicking
dark, half-molten gold, Lord of

pink light washing my ankles
in the playground in the dawn,
of jowly playgrounds and

the rituals they amass, Lord of
the untied red shoe, the foxglove,
Lord of the unremarkable

pepper trees, of remarking on the bark,
Lord of placing a crabshell
in the desert, Lord of

Spartan furnishings, pyrrhic
in love, Lord empirically
of the believers, though I

waited in silence at the river edge
listening for leaf-rustle hours till something
voiceless blew the stars out, Lord

of forgone displays, forgotten
keys, mildewed locks and of
the more discretionary, Lord

that shapes the ruses,
the cysts, Lord of smokestacks’
shapeless exhalations, Lord

what requires corrective, Lord
of little corrective, is it possible
to find comfort in a stranger, Lord

of the behavior
of the dying, of blasted
mountaintops, shallowing

estuaries, of totaled
grain stocks tallied by plump men
after-hours in dark offices, of

tacit abuse, practiced suffering, Lord of
mum confusion, blankets, of
the dropsical look of one’s own

body in water, distorting Lord
my body is my body how can it be
yours, Lord I’m polishing what cannot be

reduced, Lord of the name,

the belly, the frog gurgling in
the mist which eats it, Lord of
making tiny things suffer for their

tenderness and bloated things
wish to be small, Lord of lard,
of lavish breathing, Lord

still nothing goes Lord, Lord
when I make you I make you
act, actuary lording, Lord

certain hours extinguish you,
Lord of fruit so soft I eat the spine
accidentally, Lord of “of Lord”

of din-echo, of din, Lord
of counsel of quietest
my instinct, Lord, to kneel.

Justin Wymer is an adjunct assistant professor and catsitter living in Iowa City. He has received awards from the Radcliffe Institute, Rockefeller Foundation, Academy of American Poets, Harvard Office for the Arts, and University of Iowa. His poems have appeared in Boston Review, Conjunctions:60, In Absentia, and Lana Turner.