Gone Lawn
a journal of word-things
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Gone Lawn 54
worm moon, 2024

Featured artwork, Capitol Reef Wash, by Kathleen Frank

new works

Mikal Wix

Your Baptism Is My Oubliette

You were reborn today in the painted sky of a shallow riverbank, a shoal to surrender, and I recall the argument we had last night in high winds, the hiss of toothy glossolalia, of thinking that you will know of it all soon, the yammer of sorrows. Now I see why you went fishing though, for that thread of all unraveling reddishness, blood to pounce and take umbilical in hand unseen, but uncoiled and delivered in secret, into the reaches of that muddy bedrock river, where you drum now to square that fiery voice in hymns sung by congregation, in ministry to ask the fallen — the ones gone from making, who didn’t know the fang, or the gaping maw, venom-like spittle, voids of unfurling fiction — to fill your veins with the absence of shame. If things change, maybe just enough for you, then I can follow your purified footsteps. But when I rush to chase, still no hook sets, no almost, no sway of whiplash to do or undo the knot tied, a word without a to or from. Faith, you’re probably watching my eyes tighten and slide up to a dark sight, not blind, but not seeing you either, the paradox of being, exhaling nothing I can breathe, yet moving something, some atmosphere, where I’m unborn moments ago, in a pinch, an oblivion, a summit-ago cataract of pearly moss on the shade. If is a word that sails us off the ground in pieces, the provenance of change, odd that the question is heretical, but I can’t pause, pregnant though we were, I can’t give two letters any quarter, except to repeat, if. No wonder or ask, just that small bump and the retraction of a soul. I don’t know where your thoughts go, or how long the folds in our palms will grow, or how the worm lives on the sea floor, why some planets freeze or boil, or what keeps me from coming back to you, awake in the jagged hours, asleep imprisoned in rhymes snow blown to make white walls higher and harder to scale the ladder to finally see that the soldier on the cross in you is hidden in me.

Ground Control in Frostproof Orange Groves

They try to pull us up to branches high in blue, but our hearts see black to knot such hysteria, like when we first fled our Cerro Negro dunes. The smugglers shout haste to heed the drifting striped cats lying in the grass, blushing teeth of concertina steps longing for the swift water. The coyotes who knock us down the pitted lane wear fine ropes and hats, atop bright feathers fly, unlike our children who wade the stained river. They fear us, and we need them to bed down in it, dogs deranged by our trespassing love of sepia hues, of obscurity, the inconsolable salt lick of half-light. We ride under a malignant, gauzy smoke, sputtering engine-sharp, like slaughterhouse ice left to melt, the insecticide fog lines to our deliverance al cielo. We are guests who starve pulling fruit by the box, of 90-pound desires unleashing mud in a lahar of our worker hands caked by the spin of wheels. We seal the door of our room to slow the thick rain of fathers from flooding us out to starlit citrus fields, recall our mothers spilling us to harvest their elegies. We float up into the sun-swatting pollen teeming, but keep our eyes upon the earth, like raptors seeking to save our children a nest of bright song. Nocturna, we live in a house of whirlwind spun out from dark corners into centermost life, families stout and still as a net of keyholes in the open sky.

Mikal Wix is a queer writer from Miami, where most things unravel. Their poems are found or forthcoming in Uncanny Magazine, North American Review, South Florida Poetry Journal, Gone Lawn, Moss Puppy, Portland Review and elsewhere. They edit poetry at West Trade Review. All published work: linktr.ee/mikalwix