Swivel, Rowena, in your dark leather. Olayinka
and I live on air alone. We watch our warm
breaths mingle and evaporate. Zero equals
dry. Dry can’t be divided by. And fling your red
hair. Esteban and Desmond fished for perch
through ice holes at Devil’s Lake. Esteban
brought up a shaved head with a mustache. Des-
mond said he’d been hacked with a machete.
Beatrix, please find us real estate to lease and bless.
I didn’t get the job I wanted, a sitting job,
selling tickets at the foreign movie theater.
Now I’m seeking a promise, a science, a feeling,
a history. Sterling in Roane County figures
he’ll harvest two full acres of day lilies, despite
his bursitis. The winter is dry, Rowena, outside and in.
At our old house, while I was baking apple pies,
Olayinka told me to touch my finger to my cheek
whenever I burn it. Turn, Estaban, to pharmacy.
Once at our hotel room we found a strange
suitcase in the closet. The room was blue.
Desmond said this winter wasn’t sorcerous.
A café thumped below us all night. Beatrix rode
in a side-car while her soul drove a quiet Kawasaki
through modest neighborhoods. _Pivot, rugged
_Rowena. Thrive, my dear Sterling. Release us.
_ After two wrong turns they were quite cold.
Don Gilliland’s poetry has appeared in Gulf Coast, DIAGRAM, AGNI Online, Diner (as winner of its 2003 poetry contest), and elsewhere. He has an MFA from the University of Alabama, where he was poetry editor of The Black Warrior Review. He is now a PhD candidate at Alabama, with a dissertation focus on the poetry of Emily Dickinson and Herman Melville. He lives in Birmingham. (updated 6/2008)