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Three Poems
Parlor Herald

All stories begin with a doorbell, the enterer,
a light, unexpected yet inevitable. Implied

accusation a question of how soon, when the dead
rise again, when the receiver recognizes her place in

the upholstery? Sit back and let the story spin.
To begin, answer: If I’m your vice then how hard?

You say you don’t often write songs for sharks
or follow them back to their banks but think

about the gold you’re laying—all your blood
runs backward, metallic through your vessels

and you open your silver mouth to reveal a beacon,
crackling and sparking, the one portent we’ve missed

all these years. Outside transistors erupt in light
as the funnel flips a semi. We know it’s your fault.

What’s the point? Tell me how you like how it stings
or else what’s the point. In Vegas we huddle,

in New York I cover myself with a comforter.
It’s never fair the form you take in my fit, 

my episode. From your investigatory body,
a flower. From my evidence room, pink champagne.

To take oneself seriously presupposes chance,
to disavow celebrity presupposes arrogance. 

Down to brass, the point: We sat on divans
pointing across wallpapered rooms to each other,

one hand a flute, one a crook, shades up 
high to the brow as shielding from gas lamps.

A hiss through quiet, we traded accusations
as the body grew chilled on the carpet.

A lizard scuttled at a diagonal and the camera
needs film. The reel clacked and someone coughed.

This is what I mean by your psyche in mine
own image. This is what I see when you turn 

out the light. This is when we realize we 
are mirror images with similar algorithms. 

This is where we are when we stop looking.
This is where we part again for never meeting.

And this is what’s left for me to say to you: 
If I find out you lied to me, you’re a dead man

The Dream

Wonder mumbles or something like I like that, there.
Dusky imprecision flaunts the better half like charm
Links reticence to daze—all the jokes saving all the lonely
Militant hi there. You’re something, not charming, and why
Take up hands against? The dreams come back: black Escalades,
Spray of knuckles through tint. Go forward, go forward, 
We can’t be sure though hear that hiss? Residual line
Tap exhale or breeze amongst poplars, cherry blossoms.
Registers a sigh of slow surveillance. The dreams come
Back of everyone set to play in the wings and hush.
The empty amphitheater, trickle mist through slats meant
For off-gas. The swamp leaves trails to us all and the flags
Signal forward, we are dispersed. My heart’s homestead
A reckoning, fogged pier. What to make of the monuments
Lighted like jewelry and just as warm. The hand does not reach
Across for all its waiting, anticipation mistake, for naught,
Smoke screen no screen after all. The rivers cut everything off.
Black Escalade, go forward. In the steady, slow humidity, everything
I love shudders off. 

Midwestern (Metal Made Temper)

Objects alchemize or metal to a shrift, catching
Full aversion in dust pile-up, sandstorm bubbling
Through the window, reluctance virtue in the sun
Setting, a wilder population come to root out evil.
The comet roving closer, elliptical firestorm—too easy
In worship, the farmhouse a perfect frame absorbing
Destruction’s dispatch. Give up that face already.
No notice, tawny portraiture from the butcher’s bed
Casts a pale in the striped hallway, perhaps a pail
For harrowing night flames, gaslit in mercurial mirrored
Glass. Darkens. Hear it? Rumble low through the yearlings,
Poised in up-sniff ready, flashed out at second glance.
A glacier’s timeline re-sketched in gale, crops kneel
To the word. This is what the rocking chair moves for,
Wildly unnatural, chains in the cellar strung for airlock.
Do we know what it is to drape, to frame? Fuller biding,
Fuller menace, sepia web vibrates a full minute before
Halting like a charm. The lake shrugs, pulls back, opens
Its center like all the plain’s throat. Full minutes in
Arriving, generous acceptance, sea-like provisions
In a kind-of-sail churning power, halting current, 
Rustling stalks, stopped. Just the rumble. You see it, 
Come closer. 

Thea Brown is the author of Famous Times (H_NGM_N, 2018), Think of the Danger (H_NGM_N, 2016), and the chapbook We Are Fantastic (Petri Press, 2013). Her poems can be found in Bennington Review, Oversound, LitHub, and elsewhere. She lives in Baltimore, where she was the 2016–2017 Tickner Fellow at the Gilman School and a 2016 Rubys Artist Project Grant awardee.