Two Poems

Old Fashioned Wire Loop Electric Games

Nights like this when I’m missing
a whole layer of skin, so raw
I can’t stand to touch covers,
tied to one side of a king bed
when the other half’s empty,
pillows unmade from the last time
and a shape of his body outlined
in twisted sheets, I remember

abandoned beds: hospital sterile,
early surgery memories and what
else can be removed? Games
of hand-eye coordination
I’ll always lose: like Operation’s
Cavity Sam, so many ailments,
so few options, and every procedure

has its price. I tried to sever
a throat, pluck an Adam’s Apple
to dislodge the stuck words
that could save him. My butterfinger
slip, another high-dollar fuck-up,
the buzzer echoes my shame.
Stomach butterflies he’ll never

survive, another low-hanging fruit
lost. Broken hearts are cheap, but
impossible to fix without tripping
alarms. And you, defective bones,
funny and wish, you’re the worst:
so expensive, your betrayal.
So elusive, just out of reach.


In Lithuania, close to the Latvian border, a hill
of crosses yawning wide their arms, so many
stiff hugs — you might stumble upon a confession
received in their shadows. You might give yours.
What do you have to say for yourself? It is not clear

who hangs the beaded rosaries on iron bars to clink
in the wind, strange music. Some medieval obsessions
survive. Someone will forgive you. In Père Lachaise,
Oscar Wilde’s pilgrims leave behind scarlet kisses,
confessions to his tomb. There was a man, scarved

and drawn, searching for Maria Callas. I had the map.
Who did I love? In Montparnasse, I left behind a torn
train ticket for Serge Gainsbourg. In New York, I was
in the right place at the right time, outside the Apollo
for James Brown’s wake, inching up 125th Street after

five freezing hours for a perfect wig, a cobalt suit,
a stage so small in person. I left behind a marriage,
tucked in a gilded casket where it belonged. The wrong
woman in the wrong place, but broken clocks will have
their lucky strikes. Someone might forgive me. I could

have used a confession. I wrote mine on the wall
outside Graceland, small as a link in a rosary’s chain.
I would play a game of chance. In Memphis, I tossed
a ring at the highest tier of a fountain. Gleaming arc,
it landed in the water, clinking all the penny wishes.

—Erin Keane, Louisville, KY