Michelle Bitting

The Ferocity

of this desert wind at night
bending the monster palms
they can’t help
letting themselves get torn apart like that
there’s a hundred miles
per hour of nothing
always headed straight for us
the way my thinking never stops
and my brothers will always be dead
blowing me down
huffing and puffing from inside
their stone heaven
their peek holes to the stars and sky
my darkened door
glowing like a bullet
radiant as the frond commotion
as the flailing green racket
kept at bay by wood
and glass I’m hiding behind
the truth that even trees
will harm themselves
goaded by gods and gusts
those historical hands in everything
sharp as the cathedral bells
ringing me off to sleep
a distant nowhere dust
where my brothers have just slipped away
to do their witchery
in wee-hour kitchens
so quiet we forgot to listen
so busy with their potions and triggers
their bottles and plans
but never quieter than the cold cocktail
of their blue faces after
and still
a sister cannot stop it
and My hand is alive all over America
this wind a mean choir
a rude anthem
shredding the palms outside
this paper night
my scored heart
the loudest air
that will have it no other way

Michelle Bitting was short-listed for the 2020 Montreal International Poetry Prize, won the 2018 Fischer Poetry Prize, Quarter After Eight’s 2018 Robert J. DeMott Short Prose Contest, and a fourth collection of poetry, Broken Kingdom won the 2018 Catamaran Prize and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best of 2018. In 2021, her manuscript Nightmares & Miracles won the Wilder Prize and will be published by Two Sylvias Press in 2022. She has poems published in The American Poetry Review, Narrative, The Los Angeles Review, Vinyl Poetry, Love’s Executive Order, The Raleigh Review, Plume, Tupelo Quarterly, and others. Poems are forthcoming in Air/Light, Sugar House Review, Pine Hills Review and South Florida Poetry Journal. Recently, she was a finalist for the 2020 Reed Magazine Edwin Markham Prize, as well as the 2019 Sonora Review and New Millennium Flash Prose contests. Michelle is a Lecturer in Poetry and Creative Writing at Loyola Marymount U and Film Studies at U of Arizona Global. www.michellebitting.com

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Spring 2021