"O my God, What Am I" by Devon Balwit

A gift, a love gift
Utterly unasked for
(Plath, “Poppies in October”)

Have twins and you are queened,
birth more, a sow,

the small sucklers’ upturned faces

Don’t make it look too easy—you—
tail lifted in heat,

each long schlong thrusting. Coyly,
devote a week,

a month, a year. Bemoan your delicacy,
the way you spread

legs only for God and Country. Bite
your lip so as not

to shout, coming become jouissance,
the smallest shiver.

Take the babies round singly
in a covered pram.

Maybe, then, the neighbors will lose count
and call you ordinary.
Devon Balwit lives scarily close to the Cascadia Subduction Zone. She is the author of the collections: We Are Procession, Seismograph (Nixes Mate Books), Risk Being/Complicated (a collaboration with Canadian collage artist Lorette C. Luzajik), and Motes at Play in the Halls of Light (Kelsay Books). She also has a Flannery O'Connor-inspired chapbook, Where You Were Going Never Was (Grey Borders Books) and a Moby-Dick inspired one,The Bow Must Bear the Brunt (Red Flag Poetry).

Excerpts from "Nashville Notebook" by David Bersell

David Bersell's "Nashville Notebook" is out June 2nd. The chapbook alternates between flash essays and journal entries, exploring the loneliness and ecstasy of a young writer. Here are some of the journal entries.

I am 28 and live in Nashville, Tennessee, where I help run a restaurant. An independent press just agreed to publish my first book.  

It's the day after Halloween. I'm writing in a yellow notebook made from a vintage picture book. "Christmas, 1959 Mike from Grandmother." The woman in Prague who is not my girlfriend sent me the notebook for my birthday. 

I’m writing about falling apart, writing for the first time in years. Because it's the only way I know how to save myself. 

Our wounds are also magic.

"Dad, is that you?" says the train jumper, looking me in the eye, trying to get a rise out of me. 


He blocks the sidewalk. 

"Dad, you left me at the liquor store in '96." 

"Son," I hear myself say, "I'm sorry."                    

I finally understand why adults love fireworks; fireworks look like flowers.                        

I’m thinking about my mother
teaching kids who just don’t get it
or don’t want to or are high
or hungry. I have been all four
at once, whispering
please come back.

Filmmaker and artist Mike Mills couldn’t stop drawing fireworks after his father died. 

“I read that fireworks were first used in China in the 12th century to scare away negative spirits. I envied a world that not only recognized spirits but scared the negative ones away with small man made explosions.” 

All the stars in the sky are not dead.
David Bersell is the author of the essay collections The Way I've Seen Her Ever Since (Lettered Streets Press) and Nashville Notebook (Ursus Americanus Press). David studied writing at the University of New Hampshire, University of Maine Farmington, the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies, and the Tin House Summer Workshop, which he attended as a nonfiction scholar. He lives in Brooklyn.