Michael Bagwell received an MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence. He has work published
in Bodega Magazine, Dark Sky Magazine, Whiskey Island and others. He was founding editor
of El Aleph Press, lives in Austin (Texas, USA), and is somehow a software engineer.

Flesh and Monster Movies

The new technique involves rowing
with two or more limbs.
It is best to keep things symmetrical
though one can forgive what is forgivable
and perhaps a little more.

All the new vampire movies are about things
more than vampires as if old values can't fit
and it's not enough just to fear for your soul.

The next technique involves jumping
in a white nightgown on a golf course
while asking who the real monster is.
This is good for scars and stretch marks.

When I finish building a coat factory that dreams,
there will be no need for any of this.
Though it will only dream of coats
and, at its wildest, sweaters.

I'm going to take the letter i
from people's mouths and knit them into a set
of mittens big enough to cover my whole body.

In a dream, my skin became an orchard
with two apple trees at the nape of my neck.
They were symbolic of blood, but
the sexual themes were either too obvious
or not there at all.

I walked into a scar of sunlight
and left my body
like a heap of ash.

A Fine Form of Mercy

What I want is for some giant thing
to come and smother me. I don't care what.

There are several ears in this room.
They outnumber the people and thus
stage a mutiny, which is a small silence
or a Zen-tin-letter-e.

The only way to say a thing is not to say it.
We are on the vast edge of a system of not saying,
torn apart by endless cable wires
and all we can feel is shame.

To take something from everyone
is a technique for lowering the sky.

When the time came,
teeth were the only things that were raptured
so that the blender was elevated to a position
of extreme authority.

We could still talk, but our bodies
grew bored, which is a burrowing
into the color red, or an educational facility
for wild pigs.

Then he raptured the blenders,
leaving us to gum each other to death
which is a fine form of mercy.

Swan Song

When it rained, the general spun fast enough
his face was only partially blurred.

I could consider myself lucky,
when I could consider myself.
My bullets graduated magna cum laude
and would eventually become professors
emeritus at prestigious universities.

23 years. Said two times and you have
the equation for the dead father.

Outside, a man is falling.
He is always falling.
He fluctuates between terminal
and perpetual velocities.

On dark nights, the moon sneaks out
and accordions the ocean a while.
It sings something, but takes 28 days to sing it
so I would be dead before I knew
what it was so sad about.

When You Get There Take a Long Look at Everything

What I built did what could have been done
with a piece of plastic tubing, but I did it
with a trapezist and a new year's eve party.

There are no rabbits, you just like the letter r.
Who could blame you, really?
The magician fermented sexual gasps
into a kind of pity and pulled this
out of his hat instead.

Your problem has more to do with
an allergic reaction to cell phone radiation
than it does vampire movies or oysters.
Listen, we all feel as if we are preparing to
disappear completely. This is normal.

You wouldn't believe the things I did
in front of the mirror. I tried on last winter
as if I were the lobby boy in an elevator.
I practiced making
the stitching myself a pair of wings face,
just in case I had to counterfeit my own
as an escape route from hell.

Your body may hurt and turn the world into
a confusing ache you've encountered in the dark,
but everything passes. Beside you
is a machine made out of a trapezist
and a new year's eve party.
You will know what to do.

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