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Liam Strong

ode to windows

my third & fourth
eyes stare more
than my man

in the club. they hold
topography like no snow
globe ever could.

after the first
night we disappeared from
each other. badges

of feldspar a door
to my blood.
open mouths

in my house
a breath of summer.
even the frost,

which too will hum
back to the sky.
we say insight

is a window to
intentions. is all glass
each icebound shard

an opening? a parable:
not every window a
mirror but every window

a cataract, silt flustered
to the river
where its bottom is

a question mark.
are there too many things
to see

through? my screen
protector, our FaceTime, a flute
of sparkle between us.

your body encyclopedic.
i say we’ll always be
close with or

without poems, flesh, latex,
but the alphabet of your
body, an object latched

to impermanence, bears
an end. out of sight—
just another rhododendron

lumbered with pollen.
the end where
sleep is an unlocked

window, but you don’t
sneak into my dreams.
one where i’m looking out

i’m looking out i’m
looking out i’m looking
and then a man &

his dog
pass by.


It was not like we hauled river from the river. Air from sky. Your mouth from your mouth. The left taillight of the Buick is out, James, and the sanitizer is running out. We’ve driven I-75 long enough that the trees look the same, except they don’t, like they’re following us, amputated from frostbit loam. A descendant from a descendant is a semi-colon. Give it a rest. We poured mochas, shoved aside the Mark Strand book, held each other’s hair like a nettle of fishing line made stubborn by its invisibility. Not like salvaging love from love. Our car, the wild turkey, its ear listening for what’s beneath the road. A city with no lights but everyone is alive. Your unwashed sweatshirt, your laces wrapped around your ankles, then taut in the front, like a bowtie skinned of its collar. The order to stay home, the order to stay, the order to not be with you, the order to be outside. We have not spoken of the abacus, the gnats clustering its bones. What it counts, what it doesn’t. I once played a harp with no strings, and you watched me guess at notes, their tension deboned from my fingertips. Eleven days ago, the last Friday the 13th tattoo parlor deals, where we went in to stitch the Star of David onto our calves. We can’t listen to the same mixtape over and over like this. You’re not driving me crazy. Billy Joel might be, but the blood under our tires is not. When we say there is nothing out here for miles, trees like pulp emissaries naked from our naked, we mean everything will find us sooner or later. We’re not going back, James. I want to dwell on this. Talking about poems we love is nothing. We could find a ramshackle house hyphenated by moraines, hole up inside, and call the mothers we never loved. I sometimes say your name is Jane. A nobody in nowhere becomes a calliope of story. No one has to speak for us. There is wind in your arms. There is wind on top of you on top of me, like the howling of ether, like a horror movie cabin where the audio is drenched in what’s outside. Nothing ever is. Are we paranoid, James? If wind is unstoppable, then anyone who breathes can carry sickness across state lines. Scratch my last idea. We find a boarded up house in Indianapolis, right where it’s least expected, and make ours the nicest on the block. We take the house from the house, walls from walls, give the windows light to breathe. You’re right. We should be sick, trailing blood and tissues like wedding cans. There’s nothing stopping us from dying.

Liam Strong is a Pushcart Prize nominated queer writer and studies English at University of Wisconsin-Superior. They are the former editor of NMC Magazine. You can find their works in Impossible Archetype, Dunes Review, Monday Night, Lunch Ticket, Chiron Review, The Maynard, Panoply, Prairie Margins, and The 3288 Review.

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