four untitled poems from Southern

In the miscellaneous kitchen drawer, I feel around for God knows what with your mouth by my ear. Your elliptical voice makes the dog wild in the yard, makes me kneel to the body wag. A few more minutes on the pasta, the dog and I walk to the holler. I sit beside her. She pants. Blade of grass stuck near her tooth. It’s the sighing time of day. Crickets. Crickets. My hands. A shadow bends. The porch light is on. I still miss you. I whistle for the dog. I pick up the toy house in my toy hand.


Are at the bar where an empty seat when you sit. Your new skirt. Heels doweled. Doweled heels. His arm in your space, all the going to figure out how to politely excuse yourself, he says, let me buy you a drink. He’ll have Makers. No, on the rocks. That’s what I get usually, you say. You do? He leans. You rub your napkin into a family of mice. Girl over there checks her purse for something. Cell phone. Nothing’s ringing. She caresses her foot like a pet. It’s a shiny, leather purse. Nothing’s ringing. What are you looking at.


I eat until the moment is fuller than a globe. Until dull. Is it that the heart and the stomach trade places? I take the sheets fresh out of the dryer into my arms. Carolina oak trees lead up the driveway into a rectangle of grass. A short-eared owl on a branch. Two more short-eared owls. I was crying and yelling at you that you don’t love me, even though I know you love me. I was just tired and a little drunk and the camel was headed in the opposite direction, its tail a sway. Fed up with refuge.


People are in the boxcars with the rifles and the boots. Rodriguez flashes some leather, rifles it to second, see you later, Elijah Dukes. I win another pot off the gal seated to my right, and feel like musical chairs. But then you lean in close to me, and a regular takes quarters to the Jukebox. My stomach goes inside itself, my hands inside my stomach throwing confetti. It isn’t comfortable. It isn’t lonely. I pour another beer. I grow another glance. I cross the monkey bars till a hundred minuscule fevers get going under the skin of my palms.


Lauren Barrier Gould received an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in CrazyhorseClementineMakeout CreekLos hermanos changThe Southern Poetry Anthology and elsewhere. She works for the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. These four poems are selections from a collection of 100-word prose poems. Each poem comprises a small part of a larger narrative.