The First Word I Whisper

to a grandmother waking, beak
of a demon, eyes like tongues, I whisper
around a collapsed lightbulb
as I widen it, pushing the needle beefily
to prevent the nonsense from leaving
the basement after we opened it, if only

for a few filaments, seconds of light,
a disc jockey’s damnation—
theft of nighttime
as close as some dog’s snarl,
that the dream not include a sound
by last-dark, far worse than the drywall

of the unfaithful, erased by the ice-dark
and Tupelo swains, far too blurry,
grandmother shunning grandfather
knuckles shattering over the Atlantic
and they will sew a lip there, to purple

the saltwater, and if he should raise
that glass to his own lips, he will be bitten
on his tongue, and spit the pepper to his sons
as he hoists his wife from his father’s
low plot in the pandemonium of smell,
of the enormous and lusty ammunition.


Matthew Gavin Frank is the author of Sagittarius Agitprop (Black Lawrence Press), Four Hours to Mpumalanga (Pudding House), and Aardvark (West Town Press). Recent work appears in The New Republic, Field, Epoch, Crazyhorse, Indiana Review, North American Review, Pleiades, and others. He currently teaches at Grand Valley State University. Tonight, he will attempt to convert his dream about a rosewater ravioli dessert into reality. (mattfrank76@yahoo.com)

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761