/d krieger

this city block is an allegory

but nobody living there knows what it stands for
out loud i mutter to the maples their roots

the only stepping stones in a river of lava
i make it halfway to vassar before melting shut

what everyone wonders is whether the thunder
has really spoken yet—i’m personally suspect

of eliot, that faux british accent, like dude
you’re from boston, we’re practically cousins

but which aphorism originated in what heavenly
static isn’t important, i’m learning to accept

the unknowing as its own mortal virtue
a girl hurls a full can of soda at my cokebottle

glasses and the soil i crash toward has to admit
it will never fully absorb the shock waves

of motive, a grid so much more criminal to
navigate than suburban circles, shoelaces

dangling from abandoned sneakers over
the blacktop we watched a wannabe

gangbanger bleed out beside the corner
store and at that moment the tenor

no longer weighed more than the vehicle
the medics, his switchblade-riddled frame

forswearing affiliation, so heavy to carry
to the back of the ambulance we ran

the length of that block like the sky was
falling for every lie we’d ever whispered

undercover our poor mothers more terrified
of liberal witchcraft than bullet shells

eye-soaring over the lawn oh my god
how they glittered in sun, golden hour

hope your alibi glows in the dark
because that’s where the whole ghetto

is going, coasting on a hot bicycle
gloating, the vice lords can’t catch me

and if they do, joke is on them
i myself contain hell

the forest is wearing a wire

back inside the surveillance van, the recording gets garbled. something about internal organs gathering hoarfrost and michigan winters never minding their own business. there’s a sod farm past this tick-infested thicket where the unmarked gossips park and reminisce about stakeouts that felt more like monotonous camping trips punctuated by lackluster lap dances. in the heyday of commercial drones and satellites, even The Man can find himself paranoid, back against the soundstage wall, glock drawn at every corner. these woods were the set of many an unsolved murder in some former century maybe, but now mom and dad let us traipse in and out without supervision, hissing into sticky pinecones—our new makeshift walkie-talkies—calling on the who’s who of hoosiers to grow up already and start frenching against the elementary school. but this manicured clearing is a clearly idyllic alternative, i soon learn, singing kiss me / wherever the fungus is listening / the moth nests are plugged in / the pigs can see everything

the spinney needs me

by spinney i mean:

the 100 acre wood

shrunk down to

100 square feet

sap & shrubberies


our faux castle

stone & mortar

apartment complex

north edge of town

the first green space

to worm its way

into my ear canal

and make a home there

vacant lot

occasional knotty wood:

birch & sycamore

sick birds dropping

from branches i

remember better

than down south

permanently drunk

under the table

of the mason-dixon

i surrender

my sobriety to all the

made-up syllables

doomed to disappear

with me & my sister

rachel, this is so fragile

will you carry it

under your coat for me?

you’ve always had

a knack for hangings

and my hand shake

only ricochets

twitchy tendons thick

from juggling the rain

color-coded continents

there is a ritual the two of us used to perform to make our extremities smell like the weather. rub up against the flowers, swingset metal, power lines and alligator gutters, and pretend to be nothing but an extension of the cloud cover. when the neighborhood kids called us dirty or ugly, we would race as fast as we could from one property line to the other, but there was never a winner—only our eager bodies thudding against the fences in tandem. i never felt closer to you than in that tightened coil of competition, spinning over and over again into stalemate, both out of breath afterward, every gust of wind within us committed to proving ourselves even. we mixed up the grossest potions, bottled and labeled in the basement, but the parents never noticed. i know we’re not twins or anything, but it’s difficult to live on my own continent of pot smoke and ornamental loss when we still bow down in private to the same eyeless babydolls and you’re back on the lakefront drinking olde english with the pigeons, no one left to tell us when to rinse the awestruck from our fingers

Dylan Krieger is an automatic meaning generator in south Louisiana, where she lives in a little brick house and sunlights as a trade mag editor. She is an alumna of the University of Notre Dame and of Louisiana State University, where she won the Robert Penn Warren Award in 2015. Her debut poetry collection, Giving Godhead (Delete Press, 2017), was dubbed “the best collection of poetry to appear in English in 2017” by the New York Times Book Review. She is also the author of dreamland trash (Saint Julian PRess, 2018) and No Ledge Left to Love (Ping Pong Free Press, forthcoming), which won the Henry Miller Memorial Library book contest in 2017. Find her at www.dylankrieger.com.