Sarah Wangler's work has been published or is forthcoming in Best New Poets 2010, Cream City Review, FIELD, Moon City Review, Superstition Review Issue 4, The Tusculum Review, and elsewhere. Her manuscript, Bawl Ass, was recently named as a semi-finalist in the 2011 St. Lawrence Book Award. She has been an editorial assistant at the Cimarron Review and Passages North and holds graduate degrees from Oklahoma State University and Northern Michigan University.
Missionary Sonnet #2
Like blood and bits of teeth, you are every
mistake. I've eaten every phantom pain of an ex-
lover's touch, sweet rocky mountain oyster,
you make me sad whenever I see you.
Those hairs in your ear are salty and soft
but I am not a lifesaver or raft
floating through your fancy. I am snowstorms
and ice in Alaska. I am whispers
and stolen-sock moments. I'll fling soap at
your face as if I could ferret away
the glint of your eye-tooth behind a couch
in my brain. Don't tickle me for fighting,
and please don't park your station wagon here.
Lay on the side of a wet road—let rain,
snow lick your face, lap
up your curses. Stick grit to your coat.
Like the creep of burnt
nuts, spit white salt, your lips
and tongue sore, green skins.
Crack crop in two's—part dry roast
shells like teeth crack. Think
of that old gray cold grease floor. Grate
that hid a crick of dead oil where brown swirled.
Think how the smell still means men,
still means come with Dad, fix things, drink beer.
Look up at this car,
this broke piece of god damn shit: rust
on the doors, hub caps fell off who-knows-when.
Feel the dry salt on your lips, lick, miss those men.
Come, mead-paw. Until you chew out, my womb
quickens heartbeats and carries missing children.
Your claws hold hands with twin thighs
Over mythy early-November mochas.
Blooms of red seep through my panic. I chant
to Ukka, sling prayers at Heikki Lunta, desperate,
I call to one Jehovah I can't
Let it snow. Let no rain fall from this
amniotic sac for six more months. Freeze tight
the cervix of his streams, cool the ardor of
my spring until, maybe mid-March. When
I'm fattened, seasoned, stir-crazy and
hoping for a drip, a drop of warm ale,
a rush of blood to my better nature.
Bear child, you, who thrash and tear me
like dinner after a day spent running, are
getting carried away.
Not Yours, Oklahoma
I write this Michigan in sweaty December from a place that's still
like a nursing home. A place pretending to be my Midwest. Breaths here
are brackish, psalm-like. This water is man-made, this peace is tacit
at worst, a hailstorm of hand-stroking, of lightning, tears.
I write to my Midwest: give it frost in August, snow in May. Know
those thirty degree walks on July mornings resonate in this middle-of-
the-West where I write from a broken air-conditioner breakfast table
at four AM. Here, I drink cold tea with my chilled toast, write
my Midwest as a girl who learned to slurp cold oatmeal, to brisk
tea instead of boil, whose kettle is black and the flat rain forest
prairie land becomes not gods' country, but the Country of Someone
Else's God. My Ramada of the Tuesday Night Taco Buffet must be
forgotten like the anti-Soviet missile silo where I learned to fuck
in Michigan. It's no one else's home—full of period dumps
in other people's winter woods, of runs that lasted til I puked and kicked
rocks in the Big Boy graveyard—this Michigan is full
of wild berries, cougars, bears. It's full of stray pregnant cats and
finger-pointing. The ship is sinking. It's a stick-fort in a swamp,
built up around a swing made from vine. It's a horse, a ditch, a dairy
cow named Daisy—what else? My Michigan is braided hair and wooded
with deciduous plants. It is ice, three feet of snow on a busted Chevrolet,
and more North than Mid, more Mid than West. This Midwest I write
from yours; another man, another sweating back is walking me off
like a mirage, and mine disappears with him in the heated haze.
Flashes of waves frozen in motion on Superior's shore are my amber waves,
my rolling fields. My grizzly is your bison and my Midwest is not yours.