diode v9n1



At America’s Best Value Inn in Crossett, Arkansas

     The mist is the rain gone under cover at the end of summer.
Standing on the iron fence around the swimming pool,
     the pigeons have the gray sheen of underpaid men. Sparrows
sing the night in question into question. Sense is not a place
     I want to linger, like the cement hallway that leads to the ice machine,
the ground studded with old chewing gum. By my feet, two butterflies twirl
     like fire that has lost its way. I find my room and close the door,
a beige door bearing a stranger’s—or many strangers’—inky fingerprints.
      In the morning: a cool wind, the treetops tracing the letters of their private alphabet.
In the distance: white clots of smoke rising from the Georgia-Pacific paper plant.
      All those hot blank pages—who needs them? My phone could ring
at any moment. You could say, I still love you. Mother Silence
      could appear behind me, waving from any one of these dark windows.


Teaching Poetry at the Juvenile Detention Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas 

It’s cold and the light is blurry,
the fluorescents spasming,
the walls a steely gray.
Each child is given a pencil.

Their cells are just beyond
the heavy sliding doors.
They write get-away poems
and treehouse poems.

Sack of weed and siren poems.
A flea appears on my arm and
quivers, like a fleck of onyx. 
I watch it bite and gleam and the boys

sitting across from me
watch it, too. In a cement
tomb, hope is anything
that travels in big leaps.


Early Spring After the Boston Winter of 2015

I ask the nurses: do you have a light touch? I think it makes them nervous because the jab is always bright, and my vein jumps. Once, bruises formed—two violet petals in the crook of my arm. As they darkened, I realized I had made them with my own fingers, pushing hard against the cotton ball, pushing mercilessly.  


Chloe Honum is the author of The Tulip-Flame, selected by Tracy K. Smith for the 2013 Cleveland State University Poetry Center First Book Prize. The Tulip-Flame won Foreword Review’s Book of the Year Award and was a finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Award. Chloe has received a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship and a Pushcart Prize, and her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Paris Review, The Volta, Orion, and The Southern Review, among other journals. She was raised in Auckland, New Zealand.