Hot Metal Bridge

Current Issue : Number Twenty-Five

Five Poems


Status: Tracking:

I tended to value the rarity of objects. I don’t know if that’s true anymore.

To: JT

From: VW

Subject: The absence of wolves

Eyes trained on her carriage, twice hooked, then accidentally the cover discarded. And wishing me. Some tea and brandy but not tonight; I’m trying to be invisible.

What’s wrong, he kept asking and asking. The absence of wolves. Proximity

of Russia, crows. Tunnels, licorice, stone. That polar bear cannibalism is on the rise.

The Maria is a ghetto in this scenario, a noir film of a water torture clung to, oh. The way in which he sees Victoria

or Red Vic? So. Suddenly a hand discovers unexpected things. A henhouse, madness, sonnets as circuits and code, titanium. A jumper to the floor. A shortage of pine cones. Vellum

to see through, vexed. If you were wanting transparency this is close enough.

Status: In transit:

More often than not I fear I  sound mishandled.

To: SV

From: VW

Subject: Re: Re: A reason for abandonment

Trying to describe what happens in my sleep—how you appear sometimes—what seems obvious dissolves into nonsense; I’m sure I sound deranged. (Or do we call this progress?)

Failure to fall yet fuzzy, anxious portrayals of forgetting to study or attend, full of minute detail. We walked around looking for butterflies, and you talked so much that you could have been Jesus.

I wake with little recollection, come to realize an explanation might never arrive. So much depends on perception you don’t need to know what a dream means only the way it plays.

This is the story of my life should I tell it, what missives on utterly unimportant subjects. Pull some off my shelf later—teachers loaned them to me then disappeared.

Status: Shifting:

A study found that children dislike cloud formations, calling them “frightening” and “unknowable.”


To: BD

From: VW

Subject: Re: As if your neuroses trump mine

Of a breakdown Friday, I’ve never seen a fog float into a room after talking for hours Madagascar. As if the weather mattered. A peculiar cloud analysis of my own—particles suspended, that

sky is a mouth the edge of a vowel, nullified. People are variegated patches of color. Which probably amused you.

Didn’t sleep but crept messages in a letterbox, scattered slow (that I react this way disregarding evidence sometimes. But an expression of water, darkness—cumulus are a clever construction).

The figure of a prostrate girl shaken; I wanted a broad, tall column of smoke, an Africa in which to confront ambiguities and grey areas, variegated

patches of color trying to be clear, trying.

But giant pieces of pork have washed up onshore and the smoke is choking a poet right now. The hand that holds the griddle burning.

Status: Listening:

He was perched on the edge of the flat earth he may still believe in.

To: AR

From: VW

Subject: Re: Tools to repair

Beyond the staircase is a very loud breather and his room is freezing. A number of windows opened, my room above the furnace with only one window.

Sometimes a strange ticking, a tapping or pecking outside the window or inside the wall a battering or was it coming from the kitchen might need tools to repair, only yellows or trees. Is a home safer?

Running around coatless shouting probably conditioned him for cold in any other environment. Only here it rains more.

And when he played music the whole house shook. Beneath ledges relentless wrestling, stories of old girlfriends and biplanes.

Sometimes a ticking, no, a strange pecking? Land could shift here, too, a fault cuts through. From within the wall or

beyond the staircase is a very loud breather and his room is freezing.

Status: Reunited:

I think I knew her from an old cloud forest uncovered by seas.

To: KM

From: VW

Subject: The squirrel relocation project

The middle-aged women spoon and spilled they are so comfortable around him. Such mysteries

just dropped where he happened to be standing; he was helping clean up. An enigma: Is she a woman

or a shade, a 3,000-year-old forest uncovered by rains? I am trying to let you go

to a staged reading without me. But I keep seeing you everywhere (in this foreword to Valerie violence and the squirrel relocation project is ruthless). I track locations of fire, but I am most content when the flame begins to gutter, post crush stage.

As close friends, we are only briefly happy; for all our intractable contrasts a desire to connect so infrequently satisfied. But when our need to charm fuses—the jewels in your necklace are whose handiwork? A small smooth object fallen from a tongue. You wear it as a body.

A native St. Louisan, Valerie Witte received her MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco. Her poetry has appeared in Eleven Eleven, Switchback, and can also be found in The Lone Mountain Anthology, published by Achiote Press. She is currently a a member of Kelsey Street Press, as well as the g.e. collective in San Francisco. Read more of her work at