Illustration: birdbath photo digitally manipulated to look like whirling tornado or eyeball

In Madison

Afraid of eye light and heat
our glow-looped hearts
burrow into our sternums.
Stay out, insist the sirens,

the whiskey air,
the snick of mousetraps,
the cold ashtray, the asphalt duckling.
We incant

we breadcrumb.
Pixels, paper, ink, tacks—
The sky greens.
Our hearts crawl onto

our clavicles trembling
their blood-lit loops.
Off the street,
willow branches scream

for the far side of the lake,
cumin and garlic waft up
from a bottomless pot.

Elizabeth Kuelbs writes at the edge of a Los Angeles canyon. Her work appears in Psalms of Cinder & Silt, Poets Reading the News, Canary: A Literary Journal of the Environmental Crisis, The Children’s Writers Guild and other publications. Her poetry has won awards from the California State Poetry Society and the Ventura County Poetry Project, and her fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is the author of the poetry chapbook Little Victory (2021).

Illustration by C.B. Auder.

NEXT – something haunts….

RETURN to Issue Ten