AB Gorham

Dark treescape flares from rooftops
wood wiring exposed in the plaster atmosphere

                                                      Weary bone-filled satchel
Miss juggles her coal cinder gift
soot trails track the flight pattern
suspended coal veins
                                                       reacts as a fuse box
                                                       in a power surge
shuts down no sun yet just gray
tempered floating that moves on

                                                        Charmer’s green madness
neon-spring traps carbon underground
starts a fire in the earth-seams
the surface seeds pop

                                                          Miss extinguishes each
new burn                                                     
I’ll do anything for applause
the flowers smoke the filling sky

Failure to Machinate

Some storm. Electric din, skittish light surges.
A city set on end swells with static, stone belly
drifts full and ready overhead. Night flashes
sidewalk grids, buildings cold, wet metal acreage.
Stone’s weight moves down onto the city.
In a circle on the sidewalk, water glasses huddle,
measure Niagara or drizzle, thunder pulse,
                                                     hectic glass-quake.

                                                                Static bolts
into turbulence at a telephone pole’s cross-hatch.
A bright wound spreads open the dark,
sends the surge melting wire covers into black
plastic pools, then cord-length reaching,
slither-hissing into houses. Burst and forked light.

Green electric eels banner the weather,
aurora borealis below telephone wires.
sockets shoot out metal plugs, metal tongs’ tips
singed with explosion fray chalk
the socket edges in black spray.

As for appliances overcome with current:
a blow dryer revs on its own, hot air
around the room, then sends silence, smokes a little.

Clocks begin again their endless count,
their neon features blink blank, wide-eyed
stares, and sad black boxes, blank screens,
hour-glasses inside them still thinking.

Never forget that dying is something you can do without money.
                                                                                                    -Alice Notley

Caught as a corpse, stiff empty pockets’
paper lint from an old receipt
three toes blown off the left foot
                                          two missing from the right

you had to be out in the storm
accusing light of breaking apart
                                          your perfect sky economy
in which
the body grows                  the body shrinks
            a quick domestic transaction

            light collateral   final currency effect
                       your mother losing her job
                       a long and shameful process
            trims the fat away from the bank’s structure

a business’ circulatory system finds the quickest path
                                           to the heart
trying to communicate                     with an empty billfold
this is no one here’s fault      but just think
                                                      you don’t have to pay to die
a spendthrift’s storm outside
your small money in a safe put toward
some storm-struck mistake of the weather

The Consequences of Jumping from this
Bridge are Fatal and Tragic

                        It shares the weight of a holiday, the gift-
                        giving and shallow disappointment

                        in the gift. A Salt Water
                        in the Throat gift. With this a person parched

                        can still drown. Not built
                        for the give & sway to the wind,

                        to traffic’s influx. The giant
                        cannot unhinge from its fatal grandeur.

                        Balance in the bridgeable spaces,
                        magnificent harp.

                        Pay no mind the neap-tide leapers,
                        they can see only sky below them.

                        Shadow-chasers gaining speed
                        in the ascent, all poised missiles.

                        The sea receives bodies
                        carried in the tide,

                        if intention’s lost in the tower-height.
                        A fair exchange, but also, a corpse

                        as statement of defeat. Defeat
                        as in, someone is the victor

                        who has built a shelf
                        on which to arrange, silver and hesitant, ourselves.


“Curtain! Fast music! Light! Ready for the last finale! Great! The show looks good, the show looks good!”
                                                                                                                -Florenz Ziegfeld, One Last Show

(Florenz on his death bed, gesturing wildly.
On his night stand next to his reading spectacles sits a small plate of escargot.
Next to that, a small shaker salt.)

Cursive clouding-over! Silent urchin of darkness! Certain failure! At last legs stiffen, knees lock on stage! Muscle sickness! Longer than night, oh don’t leave, my light! Blighted being, I am nothing more than a torn costume crumpled in the corner of a dressing room. Not right! Remember the line!

(Fumbles for his spectacles and scraps of an old script.)

My memories replaced with countless scripts. Lives of the others. What is this passing?! What was this life? I have not earned one moment of rest.

(Gurgling noises.
Hands wrapped around the throat.
Falls out of bed.
Stumbles around the stage. Stage left.
Thin trail of blood runs out of the corner of his mouth.)

Line! Eat the fist-sized clot away from my brain steady-handed sodder! Prevent this production from ending. Forge! For fuck’s sake! I must forge on or time, healing all of the living of their boredom, will land and stand firmly in the shape of a snail?!

(Reaches for the plate of escargot and grabs the largest snail, salts it.)

Greetings from his slippery smirk. Eat! Eat! The snail! Say what time tastes like. Oh bland & patient slider.

(Swallows the snail. Gags slightly.)

My throat! My throat closes around you! My tongue will stiffen, thick slab of stutter. I should hold how long? Long enough to loot the gods’ greed? Re-administer a heart beat! Oh my life for a script! My life for an endless round of applause! Do not forget! Do not forget me!

(Falls ever-so-slowly onto the floor. Rests.)

AB Gorham is an MFA candidate at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Her work has appeared in Left Facing Bird, an online poetry project. 

“From my front porch in Montana, being ten or so, I spy a stocky grey-black donkey picking grass near my yellow mailbox across the street. The distance between me and it, the thickness of a television screen. From the back, the donkey is a dark particle when the cable signal falters. Every time the pulse elevators from the top of the screen down, the donkey readjusts his cloud-body, the donkey readjusts his cloud-body, the donkey readjusts his cloud-body, the donkey readjusts his cloud-body…”