The 2River View 25.4 (Summer 2021)

SM Stubbs

The Ruined

We are wailing in time
with the whine of exhaust fans
outside our windows. We pound
our chests, wailing; we’re on our knees,
wailing; we’re prone on the bed,
clutching the sheets to our eyes.
We’ve had enough death for now,
and have fallen behind in our grieving.
We cry rivers that flood our collarbones;
armadillos waltz across our ribs.
If we grew our own armor surely some
would be spared. Please, teach us
how to love everyone as much
as they deserve. Teach us why life
requires a count of those bodies
we’ve held then lost,
those dead rising on their way
to being sounds we will only ever lift
 with our tongues.

Sister in Absentia

My sister has turned into a ghost. Not
dead, merely a stranger we never see
or hear from. No Christmas or birthday cards,
no proof that she’s still alive on this earth.
I’m angry. So is everyone else. Still,
blood will be blood and reliable news
would be welcome. Last we heard she’d settled
in Hawaii—then in May friends saw her
eating dumplings in Memphis, Tennessee.
I’m glad she’s eating. If our minds decay
at a constant rate, hers will have collapsed
by now. Untethered, tangled, raw. Which means
her slight appetite has likely shifted.
When you see her? Stay away from her mouth.

SM Stubbs is a former co-owner of a bar in Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in Carolina Quarterly, Iron Horse Literary Review, New Ohio Review, Poetry Northwest, and elsewhere.

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