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Steven Karl

Predictable trope: Romance / Serious ponytail / Filthy mouth / Dried sweat / Sweet tangerines after

{Ghosts in the octave}

Ghosts in the octave

Summer birds in sestet

Intestines tire

Hints of

Connotative words

Tapestry.     Tapestries of:

Weave woven     Doubling

Attentive chords

False tunes full–throated

Stupid swallows     In yard—






                                         If coffee

                                       Lust then

Good morning     Affection bird

Quick noted     Loose throat

Robin breast     Boast


They ponder upon

Garden path while

Muttering     (Im)perfect

Story      Rendered

(Im)perfect      Blazed

With      Foxgloves

Baby birches

Squash blossoms


                                                    Not Then:

                                                                                Two paths     (always)

                                                                                Two paths     (for blooming)

                                      Path One: To be     Consumed

                                      Path Two: To wither

To dead     drop     earth eaten

Similar not same,                                                                      Ah, but that,     Radiating

I n b e t w e e n t i m e s                          (Chanting a chant)

                                                                                                                 as what


The slant of sun     He begins

Grapefruit sweating



Ineffective pills

Magnolia rot     On windows


More grapefruit


Flowers in chipped vase                           Because,

The moon is

Predictable trope: Romance

Serious ponytail     Filthy mouth

Dried sweat     Sweet tangerines after


Socratic questions     For emotional diminutive

Perfect Commander     Manly in man boots

Advertisement slogans     Insert insertions

Greening heart     Orchids in hand

He affectation of,


                                                                Occasionally an errant

                                                               Wildflower reminds her,


Crookedness     All kinds     Light-boned birds

Peonies drooping     August bookmarked

With rain     Accusations     Scent of others

Infested with black shell beetles


                                                                                                          Wood rot          River riotous

                                                        Details absent     Bare bone burst

Pride     A simple sound     Cello secretion

                                                                                                          Whirlwind of wings

                                                                               Clashing     Life     

                   He     Door     Hinge     Dialectic She

                   She     North wind     Season splatter


                                                            Afraid of,     Choric rapture

                                                            Heap of heat     Soil ruptures

                                                           Magnolias gone     Lilacs & lavender

                                                           For split tomatoes ladybugs


Enter one

Exit one

Tea steep

Mind loaded with

Slowed song

Wretched     That mouth

To rip wings

From crickets



Window-framed     Light shifts


Shadows to paled yellow


Hay     What remains


                                                                                                                            Out of frame

                                                                                                                            Light lingers


                                                                                                                            Paled to disappearance


                                                                                                                            Darkness to final darkness


                                                                                                                            Ants & other insects—

Steven Karl is the author of Dork Swagger (Coconut Books) and Sister, (forthcoming from Noemi Press, 2016). Recent and forthcoming work can be found at Entropy Magazine, The Volta, Pinwheel, and The First Time I Heard My Bloody Valentine. He lives in Miami and teaches writing at Florida International University.