Grace is a poet from Cleveland, Ohio (U.S.A.), who learned to read and write
at age four and has not stopped since. She interns with Two Dollar Radio and
is a poetry reader for The Journal.

Whiskey Water

There are not many places to
hide between 200 thread count sheets
where the sun shines
through exit wounds and not
a window laced with cockcrow.
Last night we turned the sheets into a
river of fervor.
I nearly drown, you
swim to the island where
my body is an altar and you, the sinner.
And I should say that
water is the color of your eyes
but they are more like the
seaweed sleeping in the soil of Lake Erie,
the kind that begs at my ankles the way
I beg for you to make a home
inside of me.
My mouth holds your silence your
mouth holds my mouth.
I watch the hurt roll off like
water on your back. We are
sweating, crying, swimming,
treading, grieving, trying.

This Must be Paradise

Driving on a
country road
we see a
man selling
jerky out of
the back of
his truck. Beef
turkey jerky, elk
jerky. We throw
our heads back
that's so Ohio,
we say.
This place is
a ground zero
of self-destruction.
Which is to say,
Ohio knows
how to tear
you down
better than
anyone. Which
is to say,
in Ohio, your
body becomes
Which is
to say, Ohio
consults with
your nightmares
on how
best to
you. Drive
forty minutes in
any direction and
you will find
an old house
in a corn
field, hell to
heat in the
winter and
floors that
creak and squeal.
The roof is a
black canvas,
strewn with
stars like oil
on a cast
iron skillet.
In it lives
the ghosts of
our dead friends,
refusing to
this place.
On the way
back to
Cleveland, we
stop for
some jerky.
Which is to say,
if you
try to leave,
Ohio will rip
out your
and replace
it with a
that only
points you

Lessons in Leaving

Sidewalk chalk / Chocolate milk
Chuck Taylor blisters / Blood sisters
Twenty bucks / That's enough
Grew up / Got drunk
Moved out / Caught a cold
Break bones / Slam phones
Hometown / Graveyard

The Only Way to Make It Through This Life

You know that right before Brad died
he took his dog for a walk, right?
You know that the police got there before
his family and wouldn't let them in?
His father was held back, hands grabbing
at his waist like the way you stop
a small child from running into traffic, you know?
You know he walked down that street, the one
with all the sycamore trees, and it was October
so he probably crunched at least 50 leaves, right?
You know that once I was driving down that
street and The Cure came on the radio and my
windows were down and there was a man at the
red light next to me who gave me a thumbs up?
You know he ate apples with hummus, right?
You know when I was fifteen he taught me how
to whistle with two fingers in my mouth and
let me drink pinot noir out of coffee mugs?
You know that he bled a lot when he shattered a wine
glass in his hand? And he had to get four
stitches across his palm? You know once he
told me the only way to make it through
this life is to live through several others?
You know that matter is neither created nor
destroyed, meaning when we die, our pieces
rearrange? You know that, right? You know
he should have forgotten how to hold a gun, right?

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