Lyrical Vows by Corey Van Landingham


Beneath this day-time moon, rising fast above the turnpike, I take you to be more than a point of
Today, I promise you this: to stay in my own lane during each dark tunnel.
Motor oil, pop can scuttling away from a tire. The seatbelt sunburnt across a pale shoulder.
Networks of wires rising away from us.
What connects asphalt to the sky, keeps them from tearing?
May we be so industrious. Burn a hole through the ceiling of our love, rendezvous in Paris to make
I travel among unknown men on roads miles above the sea. Little amorists crossing a glacier’s
You want, I know, to touch them all.
The wild voice in my head. As if that dog could listen to reason.
May we be spontaneous.
I promise kitteny hand jobs from scenic overlooks. The vernal woods below.
O mercy!
I promise to remind you, daily, we will die.
I promise little swooning, much critique. A dubious moral high ground.
A few miles above Breezewood, the FM fizzles.
It’s a testament, you said, to how good the song is. How long one endures the static.
May we never be enough.
What stalls time is the overlit trailer hitch. Like an ancient star slid back.
I will regulate my excess.
I will attempt to regulate my excess.
I will be excessive in my attempts.
The trucks screech and grind. The mountain pass screeches and grinds.
Supposedly, the salvation of the entire human race required the apology of a woman.
I promise to be so arrogant. For as long as we shall love.
Coyote open-throated smear.
When I get the courage to leave is when I know I can stay.
No roadside sign says precipice.
The difference between potential and dénouement, how one could slip through. How hot the raw
core below the highway, our firm belief in the crust.
Every woman knows to bury the man first in her mind.
You, who are terrified of dying.
You, closer than you appear.
I will be brave.
The star-clusters still burn despite the day.
The FM endurable until that turn, that turn, that.
Downhill, the wild mustard, the cows’ slow mouths.
The common pleasure of one, clear verse.
I promise never to assume us original.
I take you to be.


Corey Van Landingham is the author of Antidote, winner of the 2012 Ohio State University Press/The Journal Award in Poetry. A recipient of a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University, her work has appeared in Best American Poetry, Boston Review, Kenyon Review, and The New Yorker, among many other places. She lives in Cheviot, Ohio, and is a Book Review Editor for Kenyon Review.