How can you stand so many
people, I ask, drunk. Shirts dirty
themselves for the washing, waiting
for a woman’s hands, he said, I’d steal
their laughter, pawn it for a handgun
just to piss someone off. I’d drink
myself into mystical states, I’d get sick
on her doorstep for a glass
of water. I’d do this for anyone
who ever loved my sorry ass.
FRANCINE WANTS A FARM IN MISSOURI
Francine dreamed a deer drug her heart across five states. It was told to eat slowly. Francine dreamed the dear, before getting there, wrapped its neck around wire. My heart was hit, she writes, by a trucker called Grace. If I cut my arms, there’s space. Francine feels the weight of five states. If I had a farm in Missouri, she writes, I’d believe in destruction and healing. Francine believes she’ll eat the dear slowly and fill her heart. If not, she writes, I’ll cut my arm. I’ll buy a farm. Marry a trucker called Grace.
The snake sang on the bank
Belted about being born empty
Let us fill, he said, each need
Twice. He took to swimming
Beside me because I was lonely
And asked, What do you dance for
The belt around my waist became
A river. All the fish found me naked
Then I knew, bodies were made
To be broken, loved. This song,
The snake sang, keep near
To your belly. I became a wild
Dancer yet again. Keep going.
The river woke. Night-birds
Hid in fear. Eggs began to appear
And I, the woman, ate in silence
Every last stone-bread
Of the buried men’s hearts.
Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick received her Masters in Fine Arts from Sarah Lawrence College in 2010. She recently completed her first full-length manuscript of essays and poetry and has a chapbook in print and one forthcoming with Mouthfeel Press. She is the resident poet for Port Yonder Press' online magazine Beyondaries and her work has been featured or is upcoming in 3:AM Magazine, Night Train, Versal, Sugar House Review, among others. She writes in the deserts of West Texas.