“In these two discrete worlds, you will not even think the same way.” – Zadie Smith


Afternoons on rooftop
up a leaned ladder,
heart hopped, palms slick
with sweat, hoping it
would hold – rungs, rails,
non-slip rubber soles – hold
the whole of me, my fear,
clutched breath, my wish
to coax disaster, and the shift
of riot in my ribs, the
question marks of hair
casting backward doubt
across my sentences
of new-spun body,

I sought what? To study
pages of the city’s lies
and gifts, pink blossomed
marble monuments, storied
papers inked and brittle,
vow and dream and grift,
history hangs heavy
on our clothes: prose so sweet
is sand. Still, oysters
go on filtering the rivers,
musics swill the stations,
symbols span. Tomorrow
some new fool arrives
with one more four year plan.


so open the mouth       of the field                        its blunt bare winter

teeth brown      with waiting                      over and over

               i fray its edges                     where the woods            surface me against it

the sky               a bright bright banner                                       a cold

and hungry wind             my shoes                    in pieces already        losing     breath

               to the dirt         iowa             is all throat               all wind                  a vowel

howl train                       song                              a call across             an empty

ness                   an emptiness            a searching                  out                        an owl

                ’s cry at                         night                oceans of ears          a quietude

                                                                                                                                                    a hold


Dumpster flapping its lid like a mouth (blown rolling
down the storm-strewn alley), rain in the air;

women rinse the day (its soot and smoke, its bitter
breath of engines) from dishes and their children’s hair;

I might track you half across this city
(cabinet of stars, or brace of bears);

and always end at lake. The shoreline’s twilit pull
and suck (ice-ridden, green, or ghosted bare

of blue), its slam and froth, the shore
of wind’s bright edge. I’m standing somewhere

underneath a naked tree, its arms alift
in celebration, plea, or prayer.


SAM COLLIER s a poet and playwright from Washington, D.C. Her poems are forthcoming or have appeared in Iron Horse, The Puritan, Liminal, Prompt Press, Guernica, and Pure Francis. Her play Daisy Violet the Bitch Beast King was a finalist for the 2017 Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference. She holds an MFA in playwriting from the University of Iowa, and she currently lives in Chicago.