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Ruth Baumann

Sometimes god feels / like anecdotal evidence for something bigger


Lightning like a fist to the face. Is this the morning of the imagination?
I dress in the dark & live in the dark. I employ a narrative
of fog & no absolution. Weather, like feelings, is scenery. Then the slow
climb. The shock wave of a pause. Everything on broken glass
is my heaven, until the weird day when I recognize
I might hold a candle for my species. Language may not matter to you
if you've always been able to use it,
I think. In my head, my thoughts
take on affectations, this one a mixture of venom & a sweet
southern drawl. Like bless your heart. That's what I mean, but
a little less. The broken glass will be there. This chance at softness
will not.

Ode to the Non-Addict in the Addict Self

Attachment isn't real love, they say, but I can interpret anything wrong.
Sometimes I can trick spirituality away from sanity.
Give me time & I'll build an hourglass that flows horizontal.
Hey, I don't think I can talk to you anymore, I say to the man I want.
Awareness is a privilege, like cauterizing a wound.
I've tried everything including god to fill my god-hole.
The thing is, I just keep trying. Can we end with an image?
I fed raccoons earlier this summer, but then I got busy, &
at the foot of my wooden porch stairs lie dirty bowls,
mosquito havens with their still rainwater & Florida leaves, Spanish moss
crumbs. Sometimes I dream the raccoons are breaking in the house,
loosening the screens from the windows, looking at me widely.

Living Quiet Now

My head a washing machine set to heavy.
I drank all the water & wondered if I was clean
or cleaning for others. There are people that love me,
it's true, but where are they at 1 AM
on a Thursday? Sometimes god feels
like anecdotal evidence for something bigger,
which is confusing in its own right, & I
know I'm not the only one who holds
loneliness like a pearl & a death threat
at the same time.

Coming of Age

A body under duress knows it's a body
A body in the middle of a pendulum has no idea
My pulse unspooled
Who has not laid above themselves
Who has not said nothing
As another body pushes into it, makes claims
Who has not regarded hunger as a rotten peach
Well, this is as close as I'll get the thought
White light pouring in
A pain, too

Ruth Baumann is the author of Parse, forthcoming in 2018 from Black Lawrence Press. She is also the author of three chapbooks: I'll Love You Forever & Other Temporary Valentines (Salt Hill, 2015), wildcold (Slash Pines Press, 2016) & Retribution Binary (Black Lawrence Press, 2017). Her poems have been published in Colorado Review, Sonora Review, Sycamore Review, The Journal, Third Coast, & others. She received an AWP Intro Journals Project Award in 2014, & she co-edits Nightjar Review. She holds an MFA from the University of Memphis & is pursuing her PhD at Florida State University.