The 2River View 23.2 (Winter 2019)

J. J. Starr

Cheater Box

Upon the screen her vertebral bend, a fear enlarged my heart

Did it not make the little part grow forth as a branch, skip its lip
Menu of her body, small plates & dinner service, the little fork
If I made a menu, it could be very eaten, a fresh & holy bread

But we wanted the mouth put out before it frenzied me despoiled

So says the gentle man, instead turn hands to churning cream
Be temperate, show you are wrought whole from good seed
& know the owner of your body, the kingdom of His hand

Given over, my soul waggled on, endured me this ugly thing

It's a noble anger, father
I made & soothed

On Sunday Morning, Church Bells

January sleek gray sky, the clouds diffuse
the sun to one dull eye, & my body quiet
with goat milk skin, makes a slim seed
in thin sheets and cotton bedspread.

From the church across the street, steel song
and wooden echoes clang against the panes
of glass. I balk the song, the sun, the quiet
gun that morning makes, yet carefully I rise

& dress & exit the apartment through its
heavy red door.

A cradle of snow forms at the foot of each
headstone. Alone along the yard, I read inscriptions
in marble of children & mothers, whole families
in a spacious line of teeth. Has this soil long soaked
all their christening oils? Had—

A car passes, then a crawling freight, I cannot make
the mass and won’t be late. Instead I walk the rows
and hedges, reading through these faceless stretches
many lives that were and would have. I watch

the boxcars rolling past, a cast of iron and steel, black
tanks of gas.

J. J. Starr studied at the NYU Creative Writing Program in New York City, where she was a Veterans Writer’s Workshop Fellow. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Drunken Boat, Juked, The Shallow Ends, The Wrath-Bearing Tree, among others. (website)

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