diode v9n1



Edge of Seventeen

I have taken the last coin from my lungs & spent it on oil.
            Rent’s coming. I tell you they will come for her when dawn breaks
through the shell of trees, after the coyotes stop. The spell has quickened.
            Now, as we wait, the fever is rising like a particle of dark matter.

The men are onto nothing. They don’t glance at us. I tell you to fall faster.
            I tell you there will be a second bed in the room & it will be empty.
They will bring a horse for her, but you will walk. Even now, they
            tap the maples, boil the syrup. On the drawbridge, a woman

will tell you something that will be important later. A box will open
            in the water as the train enters the tunnel. A bird will follow the train
with a message tied to its foot, but isn’t for you. When you arrive,
            a woman will come out of the little house behind the big house

& stare at you hard, her hand shading her face.
            She’ll take you by the hand and lead you in the big door.


Star Witness

            You won’t get used to taking the front stairs, but I promise
by winter you’ll not wake up & worry about the coals or those
            whose eyes glow at night. You’ll sign more confidently for each coffin.
The room will fill with water at night, but it’ll recede by morning. You never asked

            for much. You never asked for more. Stop crying. With nothing in your fist,
you’ve no one to fear crushing. In the greenhouse, the prisoners pat dirt around the roots
            of our conspiracy. As the baby’s head crowns, the grape-picker
will make enough to go home. The cord will wrap around the baby’s neck
            long before. The last passenger pigeon will wake up behind museum glass
& die before the night porter sees—he’s on the phone, curling the cord in his finger.
            It’s possible that the key’s above the lowboy in the airport bar. It might be inside
the last lemon on the tree. Remember if a white man draws an ace to split

            like a door. Grin & keep quiet as the ninth church burns. Remember not to carry
candy at night. Even here you are not safe. Seven hills over, you aren’t safe.


Nina Puro is a poet, human, & queer weirdo whose writing is in The Brooklyn Rail, Guernica, the PEN/ America Poetry Series, & others. A member of the Belladonna* Collaborative; author of two chapbooks (Argos Books and dancing girl press); recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Brooklyn Community Pride Foundation, & Syracuse University (MFA, 2012), Nina cries and works in Brooklyn.