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The space around our home
is gibberish mostly.
But here is our long,
our arduous. Here is our hot,
hot newspaper and our mud-
colored rugs. Here are the antique
lazy boys, reclined. Here are the dead
houseflies and our warm
ferocity. Here are the spiders
going hungry and the basement
of tendered violence.
Here is our ten-fingered
December, our unboxing.
Here are our embellished
heirlooms: the prison-
in-prison-in-prison dolls.
Here we are, unscrewing
each Matryoshka
until we arrive at the smallest
possible version
of our whole



Termites in their darkness,
mouths full of house.



I’m kittens, you’re gravy.
My sugared rhubarb, your bone
barrettes. Together, we’re the black-
berry stains on the body
bag. I make a bumble bee
of my bumbling
next to your flaming
family tree. This stinger
is a death threat
for one of us.
Remember the bullets
buzzing past our heads
when we were alive
enough to hear them?
Yes, love is the mess
we make of it. But summer
is so flammable
that when we drive to the levee
all I do is drink the lake
inside of you dry
and then turn up the radio.
Inside the glove box
is a cigar box. Inside
the cigar box an emergency
wishbone. Let’s try to break
each other first. We’ll start
by pretending not to care
so much. We’ll invent
the gas mask, then the scarecrow.
We’ll hang both from the rafters
of your father’s barn, hang them
with so much care that we’ll give them
pet names and then pets
and then we’ll learn how to take care
of each other.  


Fritz Ward’s poetry appears or is forthcoming in The American Poetry Review, Gulf Coast, DIAGRAMThe Journal, and Blackbird. His manuscript has been a finalist for the Academy of American Poets Walt Whitman Award, The National Poetry Series Open Competition, the Four Way Books Levis Prize in Poetry, and several other contests. He is the author of the poetry chapbook, Doppelgänged (Blue Hour Press, 2011). He lives just outside of Philadelphia and works at Swarthmore College.