Five poems by Stevie Edwards


The floor wants a new angle to trip
me into a pile of broken
furniture—what is left of my body—
which is tired of walking
into swimming rooms. I want
to not scald myself
pouring coffee in the morning,
to point my feet toward
work, steady & capable, and know
nothing in me is
a kaleidoscope, shifting the day
into a new rainbow
dress. As I shower, as I dot perfume
on my wrist, as I read
the goings on of the world in the paper.
I want to know nothing
is readying itself to strange my day
again, and again
with its bad spells for slippage.


Mercy, Me

I brood my night into a corner
of subside, subside. Daniel says we are better
than what we are treated as—
blacksheep, we sleep stagger, turning
wine into silt stories, a drunkard’s
miracle. I try to remember
kindness: his knock on the door saying
you’ve got to get out
of this apartment. I will have to nuzzle
this gesture until the next
reminder that I am as much blood
as the next woman,
as deserving of feasts and faith.


Atomic Girl

After Jamaica Kincaid and Robert Jay Lifton

“Many [Hiroshima survivors] used the Japanese word bukimi, meaning weird, ghastly, or unearthly, to describe Hiroshima’s uneasy combination of continued good fortune and expectation of catastrophe.”
-Robert Jay Lifton

This is how water can be fire. This is how to shower five times a day: are we before or after the end? Bukimi—there must first be some ghastly knowing in the bones, as in the dread pain rain brings to the joints before its becoming. This is how to walk to the sandwich shop each day to order cheap, salty meats that are good at fighting off the fragility of thinness. Fragility serves the same function in the body as apocalypse, but more singular: the waiting for the next boot to fall, the sureness of the impending falling. This is how to burn a red moon into your thigh with coffee and stain your linen trousers. This is how to drop a file in the hallway and scoop up the papers, disordered. Disordered: this is how to keep on living. To keep on living, you will need to down the night with white wine or Geodon—something scientific about how the mind misfires until it flatlines after trauma: are we before or after, again? The “down to earth drug” they call it, which is to say groggy but unconcerned by the temporality of bloomed crocuses. This is how to be drug out of bed by deadlines. This is how to order takeout instead of buying groceries. This is how to take the subway and turn up your headphones in silent indifference to frat boys and solicitors. This is how to walk to the lake and praise it for being constantly there, for its myth of permanence. This is how to delete phone numbers of dead friends from your contacts list. This is how to delete the nuclear from your brain: say it could never happen here. Say country; say money; say weapons; say who would dare? This is how to keep on living: dare to scale a cod, to salt its flesh, to eat it alone, to know there is something good and wanted propelling your body toward something unknowable.



To be seen is to absorb some but not all
light. Scientists know this.
I have spent years courting invisibility
in love: maxing out credit cards
buying rounds for the best new loves
of my life, who happen to like bourbon
(which makes them loveable!)
and Philip Levine (which makes them
even more loveable!) or retreating
into a receptacle of dirty laundry
walled with piles of books, all asking
the same taxed question—To live
or not to live?
I am trying to learn
balance. This is what is needed
to be seen: a slurry of pills to de-
monster the self and others,
a science of or for kindness.
I don’t call my mother drunk
(anymore) but do answer my phone
when sober, even in the morning,
even when light cuts the blinds
unfairly, an unremarkable
violence. I don’t remark
on my manager’s postured
personhood or the probable
architecture of the large object lodged
in her posterior but do remark
on the brunette luster of her
newly-dyed, middle-aged hair.
My neighbor picks up my purse
from the hardwood and says
it’s bad luck to leave it there,
which means he wants good things
for me. He gets elbowed drunk
on the dance floor of a bar
best described as a class-A dive,
a bloody river sliced between
his forgiving eyes, and I wait up
all night with him, unsure of the space
between symptoms of booze
and concussion. I feel relieved
to know I am still capable of inhabiting
the light of love, not smothered, not removed—
alive in the center of its crucial giving.


I Have Wasted My Life
for James Wright

Let us begin at the end, James, where you realize
your misery has had a cost: missing
the potential for joy in the bronze butterfly,
the golden horse droppings, the sunlight, the pines—
all these ordinary wonders persisting
as you galloped terribly into the wreckage
of the moon, your lost sons, your ghosted
landscape. I want you to tell me a story
about how everything you’ve lost
and ruined can be salvaged
by the sway of a hammock, the quiet
of William Duffy’s farm, the horses,
the new balance of medications
stilling the riot in you. Then, I will know
you are the monster in your son’s poems:
sainted father, drunk Judas kissing
the forehead before breaking into
a new terror. James, how do I move past
the wreckage of a family? How did you
blossom into a gentler self while knowing
you’d razed your sons, your blood?

More poetry at Used Furniture.


  1. […] 5  Poems  in  Used  Furniture  Review Five poems from my new manuscript in progress are published in Used Furniture Review. […]

%d bloggers like this: