Lorrie Ness's work can be found at numerous journals including Palette Poetry,
THRUSH, The Shore and others. She has been nominated for the Best of the Net
by Sky Island Journal in both 2019 and 2020. Her chapbook Anatomy of a
is forthcoming from Flowstone Press.


Witnesses say it was you. They heard your joists
banging through the night.

Did it cause you to swell? The pounding
rain? Your wooden frames to grip tightly to shut doors?

How hard did you push back
against the slurry slipping across the stoop?

Did you dream the dampness away? Go to a high desert
inside your mind and pretend to be adobe

when the mud coated your baseboards?
Have you learned to be more watchful

of gathering clouds, of birds
battling a rising wind? Can you feel it still?

The hail knocking, wind peeling back your shingles—
the whole house a storm? What if

you'd laced your rafters a little bit tighter together?
Could you have fought off

the wetness wicking all the way
to the bottom of your studs? Did it smell of musk?

The black stain growing behind marshy walls?
The inspector saw it all

after he drove a hammer through your paint. Used its claw
to pry your gypsum apart.

Were you embarrassed of the screws?
Their threads rusting deep inside your grain?

How their orange streaks remained
even after he stripped you clean?

Carrying On

starling-sewn clouds | cinch tight

over high ground | where women and birds

once gathered | by food & fire

all that remains | are arrowheads

piercing plough-turned soil | a grinding stone

clutched in the roots | of a toppled tree

i walk | amidst the rubble

with an apron of bread | to cast into the grass

threaded popcorn | to drape on ironweed

the flock | forages in a froth

of wing-tossed dew | where ravens once scavenged

scattered bones | by a flint's edge

we do not fear | the scarecrow

skewered on his own pike | his shadow a crucifix

falling across | stolen land

Heavy Metal

Long hair was bound to his forehead
by a flannel's amputated arm. Its plaid print

sucked away sweat before it dropped
to the shoulder. On state road 121

Firebirds and Chargers revved,
peeled off in twos. Most Saturday nights

he parked below the billboard's halo of moths
leaned back against the driver's side door,

and flicked his Zippo. Warrant and Poison poured
so loud from his open windows that crushed cans

hit the pavement in silence. He blasted 8-tracks
smoked pot and joined the union.

After a year of jackhammers and angle grinders,
his Plymouth turned over without a roar

but he learned to hear it through his grip on the steering wheel,
the gear shift vibrating on the floor.

He sank his paychecks into subwoofers and bass
and his chest began to pulse

with Iron Maiden. But it was ironwork
that finished the job. He was straddling an I-beam

when molten slag ricocheted behind his welding helmet
burned its way down a waterless canal.

What sound did he hear as the drum incinerated—
the beat softened by heavy metal?

Bottomland Bridges

Earth slopes toward it like the shore,
a milk-soft fog

leveling the saddleback land
to the timberline.

Do you remember these lowlands
last winter? How the basin flooded and froze?

I watched you plodding ahead,
following coyote tracks across an ice bridge.

Your coat was red as its kill
when you crouched among the willows

gathering rabbit fur in your mittens
to coat the wind.

Today your aluminum pail
rumbles with walnuts as you meander the hill

to forage a lower clump of trees.
I hear the squeaking handle, the clink of shells

long after your parka fades to pink,
disappears below the haze.

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