Word For/ Word: A Journal of new writing

Shamala Gallagher

Untitled (Night-Eyes)

room of windows
glittered with soapscum,

it will be over




calm yourself to look
into the blue pain

pain that builds a window
to itself

wheel of night-eyes

salt of unspeaking

it will be over






mile-wracked garden

wailing soaked hem at dusk

waiting nameless keeper of veins

it will be over



white winking
white perforation
bitten daymoons of nail


black gleaner

black coalless volt


fluke of the body,
straw flute

it will be over

Substance of Questions

I hope you still want me
white ache in the orchid

slim-limbed bugs stalking elsewhere
want me still I need it
white bone I held to the light

others will come after
and so much in the world still
but no one left anymore

in the pinegreen waste of thought
no trash I have left
not the speaking green fountain

from the other place
just the rainshaken house

I hope you still want me
who looks out of the world still
bare ones who were other than this

white ache now the flower shrivels
why you shrink to yourself

all the white scraps of thinking
blank who knows how to speak

no one in the pinegreen waste
of remembering no one

in the rattled grit from
the leaving machine
others were always staring

still the rainshaken dusk
do you want me still

Spoken to No One Present

         thinking of

                                  in the

I seemed

                           a poor

                           so I         grew a tooth
                                                     in the

            of my throat

                              gentle freak

   with the

skin                       of crushed
                                        dark petals
                                        I wanted
                                        to own

            the dark theater

                                                and the crumbs
                                         of silver
                                                                           in the

                                         but this is all
                                                            they would leave me

 boor                            who waits
                                          near the

 caving of

 come touch

                                      the small
                                                   of my back

                                               jester I met

                                       in the alleys
                                       of worry

  you stole                         my glasses

          I have                      a weak mind

    couldn't look

                                                 at the face                
                    of the storm

                                  days you wake

                   and are                       worthless

                    who else                     would
                                                               wait there
                                                            like that

                               who else
                                           in the umber     ploy of breathing

               I pound at
your door
                                           you are
    else drunk and

              how many years
   to make
          checkmarks      for the
                                                    shame of


            but I
                      want it still

Notes in Lieu of Sleep

awake means
you live in a blank
field where fear
flowers like empty
palms. teenager,
midnight, Id sneak
onto the null suburb
roads in my
parents' car.
no one muttered
anything. safe
means no one
can bring you
the news

if one day a sudden
bad thing flowers
from my vein I will
have been awaiting
it for years. staring
into my skin, waiting
and thinking of poison
in the red hollow

if you look quick
and sideways
at a cat eye
you can see
through. clear
through to
nothing. alone
in the house
I start to doubt
the maker of
people: all
warped and
scraped early,
nudged up
into twisting
stalks and
tangled with
other stalks
and then
ripped out






eyes grow open around
me in the heat. mine
echotalk of self to self
look we fought our way through the bland
dust tunnels of the past
to get here. now we are always here

once we walked
through the nightheat
black creak of crickets
the night breakably rare