Two Poems by Ruth Baumann


In Absentia

The hard part is the thickening of bones, the rebuilding
what only existed ever in a system of impulse say             say you want a cigarette
ten years later               say the elements that bind you
to your old self hold the light                  flick it on easy everything
everything it says used to come easy                          once you were raw, & the hells
you hounded                 which were the dogs & which were the scent                   it all comes back
you know so easy                       everything  it says could come easy               & once the morning
breaks               yellow hard over your skin                     you know how to push it back
you know it says exactly how to swim                        so come back                    come back there’s still ocean


of course you’re safe when your skin lies next to your body
& the light shines on it pretty clear white             oh morning
has its way of riding shotgun no matter who’s at the wheel

so you could be quiet anytime you want because your eyes
honey they’re all blue                it’ll illuminate you okay
but your safety doesn’t preclude violence it’s a tricky

tricky system of hard luck & bad luck & hungry luck         zip
yourself up        wake up peel yourself from what couch
you’re stuck to  what floor what flesh          yes they’ve hurt you

but honey          you’re safe in a way       you’re supposed to matter
that’s what America said                        even you
creature of impulse creature of need        even you

no cop car stops at your block     you’ve traveled around to find it,
a nice blue, a brightness that for you       for you America said
no,       no this is not for you,     someone must’ve made

a mistake

Ruth Baumann is the author of three chapbooks: Retribution Binary (Black Lawrence Press, forthcoming 2017), wildcold (Slash Pines Press, 2016), and I’ll Love You Forever & Other Temporary Valentines (Salt Hill, 2015). Her poems have been published in Colorado Review, Sonora Review, Sycamore Review, The Journal, Third Coast, and others. She’s a PhD candidate at Florida State University and hold an MFA from the University of Memphis.

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