Krystal Howard is currently an MFA candidate at Western Michigan University, where she teaches Composition and Children's Literature. She is also the Poetry Editor for Third Coast Magazine. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Quarterly West, Weave Magazine, Prism Review, and PANK.
A clenched fist. The edge of a shirt sleeve.
Your hands flipping through the pages of a book.
Small talk. The poems I try to explain
to you over coffee. Two flat rocks stacked
one on top of the other. It is not a rock but
a blue jay landing on the frozen branch across
the street. The bird moves, jerks its body
away from my gaze. It is not a bird but a man
undressing in an intersection with his eyes closed.
The man has stopped. It is not a man
but a peeled apple naked on a plate
with your name carved in its flesh.
The windows have moved.
It is not a window but the undressing
of syllables. The marriage of shadow:
darkness against brightness.
Have you held it? I have.
The Wife's Revolver
A wife goes out with a revolver to the place
where cashmere blouses are ordered by
color and size. Silky and light blouses draped
across a table or hanging from the dead
shoulders of a mannequin. She holds
the revolver next to each color blouse.
Does it go? She is accessorizing.
She touches the tag-rips it from the material—
plastic tearing through fabric. There's a hole
in the shirt and when she looks through it
she sees the face of her husband.
The threads begin to unravel and she thinks
of her pillow. And the night.
The way her husband's hand will brush the
place on her blouse where the revolver once
touched. The feel of his stubble against her
cheek—from the top, from head, from foot,
from a kiss, from a single shot.
Some Version of Paradise
Once the world had had its fill of heaven,
I went into the earth and when I emerged,
my skin was thick with mud and my
naked shoulders burned from the light that rose
from the rocks. In this hell, words like
marito and amante rolled from my mouth like coins.
And that was when I knew
that hell was some version of paradise. Here,
I slept on a bed of coals and my dresses
were always black. Here, my suitcase sang to me
when opened and my books turned to crows when
closed. Now, the world is a series of paintings,
when I reach into the frame I can touch
my mother's hair. Now, when I squat beside the
lake and my sleeves catch fire, he
comes to taste the heat on my skin.