Poetry by Kristy Bowen.
Photo by Angel LaVinio.

Tornado Weather

We soon tire of broken things, 
the lawn furniture bent skeletal
in the yard, the grass patchy
and pale, the way day
divides into a thousand nights,
each warmer than the last.

Soon, we are sleeping 
on the porch, hauling 
the mattress outside 
in a cloud of dust,
moths fluttering against 
our eyelashes, rainwater 
collecting in our mouths.

Expectation hangs from a nail
by the door, each breath at my ear 
contingent on the last,
words drowning in the sway of trees,
the beginning of a motion.

In the afternoon, we drive,
spinning hours like spiders,
your childhood no more
than a tipped cup, an impossibility.
Mine, a bramble rose.
We are cautious of stories, 
how they are always waiting to happen.

There is no way back from here,
you tell me in a dream, your hand
brushing my stomach, delving 
between my thighs.  Each night,
we wait, quiet as stones for sunrise,
for the world to right
itself in a flush of sparrows.

appeared previously in Stirring



By the time they reach Ohio
she has forgotten her name,
the roundness of it lodged 
like a stone beneath her tongue,
slipping like a secret down her throat.

Her lips form new habits,
the geography of his mouth,
the slim round of a cigarette.
She uses words like kiss
and fuck casually,
without blinking, learns to look
away when he touches her face.

Already she is convinced
she sees ghosts, a girl barefoot 
and crying along the interstate,
a man dangling from a 
sycamore outside Chicago.

She puts her ear to the tracks,
listens for the rumble of things
moving closer, then further away,
his hand roaming up her back.

In Iowa, he teaches her to 
rub spoons until they bend, 
twist the neck of a deer dying
beside the road, sleep with 
a knife beneath her pillow.

Across Nebraska, the wind blows
her mind clean, straightens her hair,
hollows her voice, pulls it from her,
 a dark ribbon winding among the
rows of wheat chaff,  each town
a candle along the tollway.

appeared previously in Verse Libre



November is brittle,
breaks off in her fingers, 
is grey as the slope 
of a page, rumpled and damp,
left in the rain.

Her tongue becomes a rockslide,
an eclipse, the keeper
of broken things, there among
the skeletons of trees,
a bent stick pulled
from the river,
evasive, dreamed up.

Ask her what she knows 
of winter and she will tell
stories, leaves 
drifting through doorways,
impermanence and flux,
the crack her voice makes
over certain words, the way
his hands moved over her body,
as if tapping her for water.

This need to be owned
burns her, itches 
in her fingers, when he whispers
mine, his hand winding
through her hair, the word 
yours appears sudden,
unbidden at her lips.

She still sleeps badly as 
the leaves rot on the 
on the window ledge,
still yearns, 
her breath inside her
moving, movingó

appeared previously in Branches Quarterly