Liz Napieralski lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her poetry has recently appeared in The Más Tequila Review, The Rampallian, and The Legendary. She was selected to judge the 2013 In Cahoots contest for cahoodaloodaling, a collaborative publication.
but it was not enough
to swallow the serpent & end the story here
leather-bound book & sky emptied
a grave dug out, glass prism-prison,
chained to the edge, grass matted & dead
unlit, unholy, holding
an umbrella & still wet from the rain,
two stars reach out
to brush each other
—flicks of light, soft as finger tips—
& a moon wishing, just once,
to shine its own perfect light.
The Jersey Devil
You have come,
splitting the night,
hunting and always pursued.
You have seen the fireflies,
followed them, escaping in the
dim scarlet glow.
The rhythm in the silence.
The undying moss
the horse's skull
the vertex and the thick heat.
You have not forgiven her,
the Mother's guilty cry,
the one sin for which
she will never find redemption.
It's not a heart you're hunting,
but breath and tongue
loosening verse in wind-rush:
Neruda, Levis, and Rich
under a gibbous heart
and when the words
become just marks with ink
one temperate curve at a time,
taste the color where the chin tips back,
peacock blue then plum, emulsified,
until I desaturate completely.
It has been years,
eating chrysanthemums by the handful
to disguise the sting in the throat
one, two, three-too-many times
a generous undercount
badges of shame laced to every thought
and it has been years held in,
an arrow drawn towards sin,
not a fear of a god or a hell,
but of the captious mind and
the rip of truth through the stomach,
the unreprented pulsing against too-tight veins
it has been years
the voice has swallowed itself and
struggles against its own absence like
a stray in the alley, or a heart,
having beat one time too many,
finding its chambers empty,
has simply given up.