“A Word Like Chaos”

makes me crave mornings

when the air between us is damp and heady

with the sound of destruction:

rip of bright leaves off vines

still ripe with life,

crack of egg on the stovetop,

translucent gel sticky

on fingertips,

burst of axe into woodpile over

and over again


i kiss the place between your shoulders

where scapulae meet like flickering

butterfly wings,

and the muscle there strains.

it’s simple,

i want your hands

to give me the same courtesy

of ruination.

but before the dead leaf browns,

and crunches under foot,

use those hands

to press together the cracks

in our upstairs window,

so when we sleep

our breath is not hard with ice,

so when we wake

our foggy minds are safe

from winter winds.

this is important.

there are some things

i cannot bear to see break.

“To the Clay Angel Statue with Silver Polka Dot Butterfly Wings”

You must be an illusion

of everything ancient in this world

and everything we have

forgotten in it.

I may not believe in god,

but I believe in you.

Reaching upward,

your hands are cracked,

as they should be.

Broken hands.

Hands that ripped

vines under the California

sun to make wine.

Hands that stirred paint

in plastic milk jugs

to get just the right shade of azul.

Hands that fingerprinted

the edges of a canvas,

the walls of a cave,

the vein in the middle

of a woman’s forehead.

The silver-tipped wings

remind me of the way streetlights

look with tears in eyes.

They are silver and felt, the way

sand feels against toes

in a moving river,

the way his voice smells

after he’s pressed a brass trumpet

to his lips and buzzed, making

jazz like making love.

There is something honest

in this dollar store cabinet ornament,

something fragile that might

shatter under a whisper.

This is faith:

the holding of breath to preserve

what is glinting and red,

delicately carved

and quickly superglued

together like a promise:

You will be saved.

You already are.

“You Are the Last Train”

for the night out of Brooklyn,

sour with the ripe reek of strangers

too close under fluorescent lights, too far

from the heartbeats calling them home,

fluttering under the weight of nothing,

the burden of missing.

You are the cricket,

just the one,

at the station in the garbage can,

mistaken shelter, warm and rotting,

a haven of tomato soup, full diapers,

sandwich crusts, and loose nails.

Here, dreams fall in watercolor leaves

and strips of rain.

Can you feel me

like a tornado against

the empty Oklahoma sky,

lightning silent against the stars,

the briefest kiss of a vortex lifting the baby

hairs on your cheeks?

Tonight there is the barest moon.

No good, just night.

No night, just good,

a sandman with a pouch

of serpent teeth.

This is what it’s like to live

where you are not.

Where you are whistling and my ears

are burning because I know

it’s about me.

Where you are empty like a mason jar,

and I hold all the fireflies, torn grass,

and dirt clods in my palm.

Where I smell, instead of the sweat

of your hair as you dream next to me,

the sharp brass of your suitcase clasps

as they snap closed. Again.

You are something borrowed,

stolen from another life

with crickets and skylines as blue

as the glow from the abandoned laptop

in the quiet corner of this cobweb,

honey-slow life we have made.


Isabella Barricklow is an English major at Central Michigan University. She is a 2019 Fulbright English Teaching Award nominee for Colombia. She spends her spare time speaking Spanish, traveling, hiking, and writing about all of it. Her work has appeared in The Blue Route, Red Cedar Review, The Slag Review, Audeamus, Central Review, and 30N.