For What's-His-Name

BY Rhonda Lott

If I never write your name, it will crack
like polygons in parched clay. You who thought

you knew my form before my third
line broke, and you who refused to read me.

You are a Soviet Union,
as your face melts after a Cold War.

You are hysteria, an obsolete disease.
The longer I stare, the smaller

you become. No more the leviathan, just
the fat shadow of an oblivious fish,

a shoemaker setting up shop on a beach,
a glover peddling through the rainforest.


How to Braise a Heart

Forget everything you know, the butcher will tell you. Take your heart home, tear off the cellophane, pump icy water through the veins. Soak for half an hour before you cut away the strings grown taut from years of strain, from a body shying against barbed wire, eating unlucky clover. Sear the meat on every face, but leave it whole. The older the organ, the more time it takes. Simmer until small and soft. Drain away the slime. Forget those pink plastic silhouettes in the seasonal aisle, those silk roses in a tussle of tissue, that baby drawing his bow with an otherworldly poison. Expect a tough, dark muscle that rests heavy on the tongue like the sum of the body’s parts.


Listen to poems from our National Poetry Month "30/30" combo issue!

Rhonda Lott is currently a doctoral candidate at Texas Tech University. Her previous work has appeared or is forthcoming in Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Los Angeles Review, Cream City Review, The Southern Humanities Review, and more. She also serves as an associate editor and artist-in-residence for Stirring: A Literary Collection.