Three Poems by Elizabeth Onusko


Call to Action

Though its primary function is withstanding a sustained assault, a castle also serves as the dominant symbol in most state-sanctioned mythologies. Pay attention, pay attention. If we’re all in this together, why must I prioritize minor celebrities in my daily prayer regimen. When the cable car I’m riding gets stuck above a mountain, my mind distracts me with nuanced reenactments of icicles melting. What do we have left. Inside every castle inside every myth is a locksmith walking through doorless corridors, a spy listening through a wall to the simple melody of ampersands. What did we have to begin with. Was it ever ours.

Coalition of the Unwilling

A soprano practices in the apartment next door, hitting the same high note over and over again. On the news, public officials convey the appropriate urgency. Clever us, compelled by infographics. We have no capacity for assailable villains. Cut to cops in riot gear. To barricades. To a flag ascending like a cloth to our faces. Tender ether, breathe it in.

Regime Change

Another month
another historic moon

Sadness and its subfeelings
pledge obedience to the state

On the dais
children excel at ceremonials
while the brass band
portends torment

Drizzle turns to rain turns to hail

The politics of arithmetic continue apace

Who among us
isn’t with us

Elizabeth Onusko is the author of Portrait of the Future with Trapdoor (Red Paint Hill, 2016). Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Bennington Review, Best New Poets 2015Conduit, DIAGRAM, Sixth Finch, Fugue, Southern Humanities Review, and Redivider, among others. She is the editor of Foundry and assistant editor of inter|rupture. Her website is

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