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Spring 2005 Issue

Faulkner Slept Here

I fill my hands with dust, watch
blackbirds bolt from the square

where a woman sings, her voice
full of Gulf Coast storms and tides.

I twirl in the crowds, my feet a blur
of beads & glass, a shadow pooled in gutters.
Here, I am a lost location,
a geography of sinking swamps and masks.

A palm reader draws a map through me:
love line, life line, a jag ending at my wrist.

I pose for a photograph outside Faulkner’s House,
find the ghosts in the walls always remember;

their deep taproots cling to the bodies
that still move in their graves, a jazz song

that carries on after a door is closed,
a voodoo whisper.

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A Woman Explains Herself
to a Wall (Living in a Box)

I remember cakes—

pineapple, red velvet, angel food,
colored wax in white icing.

Baking vanilla never leaves you.

After a while, you lose your sense of smell—
wet cardboard, beer, piss
all stink the same at night.

At the shelter, no one
ever asks for cake,

but we talk about birthdays,

how our Mamas stood in the kitchen,
scooped out batter from a bowl,

what chocolate mix tasted like
straight off the spoon.

I’ve drawn up my reflection |
in front of bakery windows, pretended
that I was a three-tiered wedding cake,

my bones pillars of marzipan.

Taste is a hazard of the lonely;

sit beside someone sucking
on a butterscotch

and you feel pudding
in your mouth,

remember the way
it thickens on your tongue,

how when you’re a child,
sugar is the equivalent of love.

Overrun

Its little cowl neck is a shade
I'd rather remember: red.

The pansy & the poesy are twinned
at the stem & someone

forgot to cut them back.

If we were Siamese, then
dirt would divide us.

The roots are similar:
tango & triangulate

their notches into the mulch.

>From here, I wear my sun-hat
& water their heads.

Stand back, a new bloom
might burst.

You trample the ground &
the sun sets off like a rocket.

I might mend a yellow leaf,
but the vase is full enough.

Talk Therapy

I remember how we met, how
I came into your office, leaned

against the couch, fingers
twisted in my lap,

asked if talking meant love
and you said

there was no if, then
in how we relate,

just chance, a random
impulse through our bodies.

I felt it then, the surge
to move into transference,

a conversion: one man
into lover, into God,

how everything I asked—
became a trespass, something

I broke into, pieced together—
your voice in a dream,

voice under my skin,
behind my eyes, your face.

Change

How is it that we are not safe, yet?

Once, we were children,
our bodies

weighted under blankets that held in our breaths,
the silent stirrings

of our slumber & nightmares.

The hall lights turned off
& we watched

our mothers & fathers move
down to their rooms, some far-off place

where we knew they slept
as we slept

& we found this comforting somehow,
as if our simultaneous breathing

meant we were all living,
that their movement meant

someone was watching over us,

could keep out the boogeyman
& the shadows that nodded around our beds.

Now, we secure ourselves
to other things: our children

bring us a voice in a quiet room, a distraction
where in our misgivings, we hold

these babies close, remind ourselves
that once, we were small enough

to fit in someone's lap, once, a hum
might have brought us closer to sleep.



Amanda Auchter, the editor of Pebble Lake Review and an editorial assistant at Gulf Coast, has won numerous awards and honors including: third prize (nonfiction) in the 2003 Writer's Digest International Writing Competition, first prize (poetry) in the 2004 Howard Moss contest, finalist (poetry) in the 2004 Atlanta Review International Poetry Competition, and is a 2005 recipient of the Bucknellot Younger Poets Seminar Fellowship. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Bellevue Literary Review, Born Magazine, Cimarron Review, DIAGRAM, The Evansville Review, Phoebe, Smartish Pace, SNReview, Tampa Review, and elsewhere. She is completing her B.A. In Creative Writing-Poetry at the University of Houston.



Copyright 2005, Amanda Auchter. \This work is protected under the U.S. copyright laws. It may not be reproduced, reprinted, reused, or altered without the expressed written permission of the author.