"What's the world for you if you can't make it up the way you want."

-Jazz, Toni Morrison


Stop me if you think

Stop me if you think

You know the one about
   the shipwreck, the translucent slip ;

A bird walks into an oil-slick soup,
   shakes himself off,

The environment continues, etc.

I heard that one
   could bust ribs

   open,
giving them away. You know what you get

when you cross a good guy, a bad guy
   and an in-between guy?

you get an audience,
   the captivity filling their lungs, don’t you

get so bad it’s good.

Never mind. Bad joke. Slap
   your thighs. A doctor, a Sandman,
   and several other authority figures

say it’s good weather,
walk onto a boat.

Their steps jangle but they can’t make it work.
   Women fall asleep on their own islands

anyway. The brunette laughs all the way
   to the shoal.

   The redhead strips down,
wades right into the literal water.
   The blonde sits in the silt slipping steal
beads onto a line, watches
   her sisters drowning.

It’s a religion, the way she will walk out of the bar,
   rum-drunk, telling her stories:

how all she does is name things
   that are already dying; 

how quietly the whooping crane
   gets to its punchline;

   how she got those funny bruises
just for listening.


Sara Balsom received her B.A. in English and French literature from Lewis & Clark College. After three years spent between France and Bosnia, she now lives up in the south hills of Portland, Oregon, behind the cemetery. She is also published on autumnskydaily.com

Photo by Brandi Redd on Unsplash

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