The Ice Pick Being Her Sharpest Object


Shaded forever, the only way to be

hounded, by a man with buckshot


holes in the center of his chest.

Smoothbore arms flexing tattoo stains


and tobacco pipe peppered

breath. Tapping


his foot from across the room.

My grandfather glued his shadow


over my bed with mucilage, a crushed

cream. Scarecrow affect,


to keep my girl body always

on edge. On my sixteenth birthday


I chipped that scare

-crow down with my mother’s ice pick.


Most of it came off in one rip, but some

strips still clung to the eaves. My mother


covered them with sun and moon

wallpaper. Don’t you come back, I said


to the crow when I set it free

like the dog that bit the baby’s face.


Maybe they are one in the same,

the crow and the dog. Maybe


a man is never an animal

and I’ve remembered it wrong.


But didn’t antlers grow from his head

whenever my mother’s back was turned?


Haven’t I spent my whole life




Night Mare


I’ll conjure up a horse, a woman,     succubus leech. Architecture

of sleep. Children under stress         are more prone to night terrors.

The boa swallowing the baby. Her      dozen, tire-thick coils. Marble-heavy,

a bag full of God. My grandmother    lured by confusion from room

to room, unable to recall what          she lost. My grandfather’s body

beneath a morgue white sheet,         how I felt his skull turn toward

me even when I wasn’t looking.    The war he went to that he never

spoke of, the war inside of him        that he never spoke of. The antlers

that grew from his head now           sprout from my head. Screech owl.

Nachtmarh. The corners                  of the house, all her angles, twisted

like a net. A diseased mouth           over my own. Was mother

the first word? Or was it no     My father with his steel

toed boots. How we sat on his  feet to prevent him from leaving.

Stomach in coils. When we had      food I couldn’t eat. Pinching

the dog’s neck                                 until she cried out. No one will know.


Photograph © Darron Birgenheier