Could I plunge my ballpoint into
your throat the moment you purple —
even then? Make a gaping hole
for air where the syllable catches? If we
invented whipped cream
and its canister to deplete the ozoned air,
that suicidal turn, what about
a gingerbread beam to block it?
You breathe gingerly, Heimlich-bruised,
and the boy under the tree
points the canister down his throat
and misses, the spray
making a kind of white beard.
It’s for him you are saved,
and the house. I grab
the one throwing himself over the edge
of the carriage, who does an entrechat
being lifted, whose syllable is la
after forced feeding.
As the dog takes food pellet by pellet
to the carpet and swallows,
we forget how brave the baby is.
A 2013 Guggenheim Fellow in fiction, Terese Svoboda is the author of six novels, five books of poetry, an award-winning memoir and a book of translation from the Nuer. She is very lucky to have When the Next Big War Blows Down the Valley: Selected and New Poems 1985-2015 appear in November 2015 and Anything That Burns You: A Portrait of Lola Ridge, Radical Poet in January 2016.
Jacob L. Cross lives in the southwest suburbs of Chicago. He studied creative writing and publishing at the University of Illinois Springfield, where he served as editor of The Popcorn Farm Literary Journal. His work has been featured in Still: The Journal, The Alchemist Review, and elsewhere. More recently, his poems are due for release in Clash by Night, a poetry anthology inspired by the punk staple, London Calling. He enjoys hiking with his wife, traversing Zelda dungeons, spoiling his dogs, and half-priced sushi.