The Boiler

K.T. Billey

COLLATERAL:

a backless dress. Aka the closest
I come to the shackle, the shoulder blade

in the field, my hilt studding his soil

for a change. Not knowing how
to barter, we strip the pillory

for parts and build a tower
for red-tailed hawks.

Flight patterns are concentric, in terms
of temperature and fuel economy, so

biomimicry is a study
in circles, the rim of wine, our fusing

coccyx. Always trying to achieve that
great migration inward, I declare a truce,

a trinity of give and take for us
to talk too much about.

We are pretty tired. I woke up
like this, hungry and halter-topped, hoping

he’d thumb the blade. 
Check my leather bomber, his

jean jacket. Nothing in the pocket
but a bent id.


SMOKE SIGNAL

Call me when your hair decides to curl and chase
my eyes around the fire. I’ll be squatting by the river, peeling

poplar saplings. Didn’t you say that bruise
went yellow, then purple—a berry full of spiders, destined

for pie? When you disappeared behind the bend
we don’t name, I fed a stack of switches

to first-person flames, listening to the sap crack
into lighter fluid. Licks of bark burn too, in my smoldering.

All I can spare is a stir stick, something to rough up the coals
before I tie on a tarp and snap at the clouds. The thing is,

no matter how hard the updraft, how hyperextended
my neck, the muleta taunts only myself. I’m no matador

but I can call bullshit, stuffing my face with saskatoons.
I need to make the most of what I can’t help

hacking down, so I aim the bellows of this white flag your way.
When the wind comes, I want you to hear me, loud and clear.

______________________

K.T. Billey completed her MFA in Poetry at Columbia University, where she was also an Undergraduate Teaching Fellow. Originally from rural Alberta, Canada, her poems have appeared in CutBank, The New Orleans Review, Phantom Limb, Ghost Proposal, Prick of the Spindle, and others. Translations have appeared in Palabras Errantes and are forthcoming in a yet-to-be-named anthology by Columbia University Press. She is an Assistant Editor for Asymptote, poetry curator for Lamprophonic Reading Series, and a Girls Write Now mentor. Say hello at www.ktbilley.com.