One ancient night, blue-black across
a lazy stalk of horizon, a moon was kidnapped
and replaced with a plate—clink—
like a milk bottle on a stoop.
This story is an infant in a cradle
of glass. I haven’t begun to tell you
about the gilded warriors who turn
grey on the shore or the spotted clary sage
on the backs of their sons. There may be no escape
but this story. Turn this page while the page
is still breathing.
After Eve climbed down from the tree,
she grasped her rib cage
and swallowed a prayer— her
own heartbeat—and swallowed again
before swallowing the tree and the moon
and the path in front of her.
Eve swallowed Adam and the snake
and her own swollen belly. She swallowed the open
sky and God. Eve left a granite mountain
with an Eve-shaped crater,
where she began to draw
a warm bath.
The doorbell called and called.
Nobody answered but a crow.
A crisp man with a memorized
speech was willing to wait all day
for the family to arrive. He loosened
his body and sat next to the bird.
Meanwhile, across oceans and tides, a serpentine
fire burned everything in its path.
Noun: Combustion or burning, in which substances combine chemically with
oxygen from the air and typically give out bright light, heat, and smoke.
Verb: Discharge a gun or other weapon in order to explosively propel (a bullet or
There is a door waiting for you
and a wheeled cart. There is an IV
and monitors with numbers and wavy lines
lit up like snakeskin. There are blood draws.
If you cannot speak, do not answer them.
If your heart stops, rise above the body
and murmur low through the sedges
until you are called away.
Don’t forget to bless the window, small and odorless,
where a broken moon weeps.
It all began with a boy and a match
or a hand lens and a burnished sun?
There were other boys watching,
a singing gale building through tall grass,
and an ant and then another,
expendable and endless.
Some boys stop there.
Some grow a rinse cycle of red
in their bellies, rise
searching for something with more heat.
With eyes you can stare into
before they cloud.
Flip back to Once upon a time and you’ll
find a mother with a newborn
at her breast and a brand new moon,
fat and proud, exhaling
commands to the grasses and seedlings below.
Exactly when did the moon first notice
its spasms and aches? The growing
creaks and clatters?
1 Steven D. Danyluk, “Preventing Atrocities.” Marine Corps Gazette no. 6 (2000): 37
Gravity grips your body like an angry
lover until the stars spatter and pulse.
This night has suddenly become Oh fuck
me and you are fucked, yes, and your mango heart
now drips with something unknowable. That is when your
moon, the man with the broad faced grin,
takes the shrapnel for you, so that you may
rise, yeasty and warm, to take his place.
➢ The boys were present and the wind, perhaps the ants. Research fire weather. Were the grasses brittle? Was the wind a hot wolfen howl?
➢ Define napalm: a highly flammable sticky jelly, consisting of gasoline thickened with special soaps.
➢ What is a fire that becomes a snake?
Remember Eve, who eats the fire,
or does she makes a call to the fallen goddesses, and do they
call on the green ocean to wash it away, or do they
plunge deep and quiet into the bath?
Do the boys rise from their bone
walls, circling the fire like crows, like oily
smoke? Or do they yelp from the lips of a sinkhole
or a garrote or a trench
to face the interrogation of their
pain? Who receives the Dear John when they are gone?
What of the messenger? Does he mug
mute in the face
of the faceless? Does the fire hiss and sputter
an ember that catches fire to the house where he waits?
Or did the crow warn the warriors, the wounded undead? Did
he greet the messenger with a face full of quills?
And what becomes of those who are greeted by fire?
Who tenders the flame? Who warms
their palms? Pressing them together
in prayer. Pressing them into mud and clay. Forming
something with a flickering tongue to rise
before Eve, before Terra, before Chaos.
The story itself a hallucination, a candle spell,
a cloven tongue.
One day, the moon—
having seen it all,
will meet the fire and hiss
it out with his shoe
or become consumed by it,
burning red across the last dusk.
Linda Cooper lives in Seattle, Washington, where she teaches middle school Language Arts. She completed her MFA at Eastern Washington University and her poems have been published in Hayden’s Ferry Review, West Branch, Many Mountains Moving, Willow Springs, Third Coast, Los Angeles Review, Hubub, Elixir, Diner, Midwest Quarterly Review, Weber Studies, Redactions, The Far Field, Verse Daily, Railtown Almanac and Rock and Sling. Recently, she won the 2015 Orlando Prize for Poetry.