Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2022  Vol. 21  No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Gallowed Be

The nearest land- fill’s nowhere
near & no one is
to blame. We burn the year’s
news—in the meadow, in the mind,
till the crosswords & the funnies wilt
to winterkill. I trace
the day an epitaph
in ash: “Hallowed Be
Thy Games.” Every story is
ashamed to be true. My father’s now
a widower & no one
is to blame. My sister
doesn’t laugh, plots to live
on land turned tame—where the soil’s kissed
with concrete, yields no wine.
It’s all the same to me, if we winnow,
if we win. I tell
myself the story that I’ll visit
distant cisterns, let their sallow
walls win me over, lift my low
life & lowly frame of mind. My father
gets fined for burning out
of season, says he doesn’t
get why. So the days go slow & I
climb a pulsing fence that stops
no bucks nor does, observe
the neighbor’s piglets wallow
in their loam. (Still,
the world is wide, if the hymnal’s hold
true, & every beast has a mind to get loose
from a valley fallowing
toward foul.) My sister braids my waist-
length mane, says, “This
place is lame.” I try to tell her
no one is to blame, but the sky is
so hollow it swallows every name.  

Devon Walker-Figueroa, “Gallowed Be” from Philomath: Poems. Copyright © 2021 by Devon Walker-Figueroa. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Milkweed Editions.

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