Spring 2017, Volume 22

Poetry by Michelle Bitting


After the kingdom falls
we return to a plain sense of things.
Leaves cling to the dense air,
the old man bound to a hospital bed
sucks his morphine sap
and nods off
to lands I’ll never recognize.
A cup of coffee is what it is
as I write this. Grateful.
For this dark fluid sun,
a few trails of cream
funneled into
my green alembic belly,
scouring my inner forest
of its antique tint
to make room for the coming sugar.
Pale powder, cold to the tongue
we make brave angels in.
Trees that have no time
or heart left
and in cahoots with boastful winds
shake a sick filament down.
Though it shimmers
as Fool’s Gold will,
it can fuck off
in the absence of real imagination.
I pay attention
to burgeoning vines
fingering the cracks
of ruddy timbers. Their presence
an unmistakable contrast,
the old steroid-stuffed trunks
silently squeezed
by such delicate ink,
an intricate tattooing, new DNA
in fiery red flourish
that becomes the breath of life.
The great structure will morph
to a minor house
where there is room for everyone
as I see it. Who thinks of twine?
Of training bodies to a lattice, your tainted
holy light? Once I thought
I could wander lush arbors,
the lurid shade
of your selective gardens
and feel our mutual wombing.
But, Maestra,
your greenhouse never so badly needed paint,
your fence a hundred years old
and rotting at the base,
your gates and screws
of exclusion coming loose. Thank God
for the dog
that didn’t sniff the infested opening
and run off already, didn’t escape
this yard’s dissolving, unhinged void,
as we all will someday soon
when you’re not looking
and the end becomes the beginning.




BIO: Michelle Bitting’s latest collection is The Couple Who Fell to Earth (C & R Press, 2016) which received a starred and Best of 2016 Indie medal from Kirkus Reviews. She has poems forthcoming or published in The American Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Narrative, Vinyl, Plume, diode, Nimrod, the Paris-American, Fjords, and others. Poems have appeared on Poetry Daily and Verse Daily. Her book Good Friday Kiss won the DeNovo First Book Award, chosen by Thomas Lux and Notes to the Beloved (C & R Press) won the Sacramento Poetry Center Book Award and received a starred Kirkus Review as well. She has won the Beyond Baroque Foundation, Virginia Brendemuehl, and Glimmer Train poetry contests. Michelle has taught poetry in the U.C.L.A. Extension Writer’s Program, at Twin Towers prison and for ten years has been an active California Poet in the Schools. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Pacific University, Oregon and is completing a PhD in Mythological Studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute.