"Blindly," "The Wince Savored," and "Contestant"


“On the reptile map are locations of the green pit viper pala-polanga, which in daylight, when it cannot see well, attacks blindly, leaping to where it thinks humans are, fangs bared liked a dog, leaping again and again towards a now hushed and fearful quietness.”
            —Michael Ondaatje

Threat leaves a stink, a sour trail.
Inhale it, and it ropes you back
to its source.

Fear’s drummer boy, the breath, too,
betrays with its ragged

When you leap, you bite hard,
precision traded for damage, a field
of bruises.

You can groom your scales
in broad daylight, each victim guilty
of being born.

The sidewalk crowd veers wide
around you, the gift or the price
of your calling.

Intuit. Follow the prickle of hairs:
among them is the next one
you seek.



The Wince Savored

Tell me about the heft of righteousness
in the hand, the percussive wish

to draw blood. Recount the wince
savored on the palate, the sob

that brings you to orgasm. You’d deny it,
but I see your hand itching

for the stone, your sidelong glance to see who
might be watching. Muzzle

to muzzle in a pack, you bring down
those twice your size. Alone,

you claim only the weak. How you relish
each slump on the tongue.

You take small trophies then disappear
before the corpse fully cools.




My head rings belligerence, the swung mace,
            the crack of balls,          the pricking

of a bull. Hecklers yell Go fuck
            your mother,                the occasional fan

throws a thorny stem. I try to keep my head
            up,                              not piss myself,

avoid what blows I can. The smallest of victors,       
            I am                             still standing,

as the streetlamps flare                                   
            one                              by one.



Devon Balwit

Devon Balwit teaches in Portland, Oregon. She has six chapbooks and three collections out or forthcoming, among them: We are Procession, Seismograph (Nixes Mate Books), Risk Being/Complicated (A collaboration with Canadian artist Lorette C. Luzajic); Where You Were Going Never Was (Grey Borders); and Motes at Play in the Halls of Light (Kelsay Books). Her individual poems can (or will) be found in The Cincinnati Review, apt, Posit, The Carolina Quarterly, Vector Press; Red Earth Review; The Turnip Truck(s), Drylandlit; Eclectica, SWWIM, Peacock Journal, and more. See https://pelapdx.wixsite.com/devonbalwitpoet.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 - 22:31