Hot Metal Bridge

Current Issue : Number Twenty-Five

Four poems


Got a hole punch for an eye
curved enough to hurt
succulent as a cuticle snarl
greener than a sprig
crank on it for on, push the
lever down for the last time
I told you I never
why isn’t he coming why
isn’t he already here in
the blacked out teeth
the dung and the grease
just a freckle past breaking
the dust of the room
if you had it would you
use it, now this is just
ordinary baking soda
how many times will
I have to run over it
I don’t know, maybe
more than you should
just give me a number
ok maybe forty or so
if you had this would you
stay fixated on his blue
patent leather shoes
I don’t trust devices
I’d rather just cook it till
the juice runs clear, you
hold me captive here
please make me understand
how much I would pay
for a can of air, how
often would you say I used it
Before silkworms form their moon scrim
and folly stoops to sham in the slick
of the melted ice swan, remember that you,
my dears, were smug as fuchsias, far
from the child army and their high-tech
hand puppets, their tongues wagging
like thirsty marauders. How good it felt
to be zipped up snug in our skins as hail
the size of hail pelted the windows,
harmlessly ricocheted off the new
car smell. How clearly I remember
forgetting the day we first met.
It was a Tuesday, and silhouettes of nests
blocked the bare briars of the sky.
Before breaking glass in honor of glass,
I would like to raise mine,
I would like to take this opportunity.
It begins with a prick at the ankle, a gnawing.
Bodies roll out of cargo bays wrapped in flags
with hospital corners and the tornado warning
bends to the high-decibel whir of an air raid siren.
I find myself on the ground, a succulent.
A dead finch wings by in the dirt
by the grace of maggots’ invisible strings.
I see my fallen blooms: five perfect examples.
Time to head back before dawn draws
a fog lifting, lifting. How liberally we apply
the poultice as firebugs blip in the periphery
like dizzy stars in brief moments
of oxygen deprivation. If I should give in
to the impulse to use the superlative,
forgive me. It’s been strange.
I move among the vacuum-packed, ground-up lumps,
a smashed guitar in the stadium, a box shrub
sprayed with eau du chat. I am not hard
candy in cellophane on a doily in the dish
of an elderly woman. I blush and blush.
No more pretty pictures. Now I am one
with the purplish-bluishness, slipping out
to the powder room with a rolled bill
and a mean red mouth. Rock stars under lights
smell like terrarium. I want to crawl into their skins
where it is the future. Remember when I was a speck
on the surface of its very-most outer layer?
Now I turn on and off in waxy circles, basking
in the glow of its vacuum-packed lumps.
The volume knob is speechless, singing.
It rises up against its own zero, out of its own way.

Heather June Gibbons is a recent graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop, where she won an Academy of American Poets prize. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Drunken Boat, Blackbird, Juked, Third Coast, Best New Poets, and elsewhere. She teaches creative writing and literature at Purdue University.