person Peter Twal, two poems

Peter Twal is the author of Our Earliest Tattoos, winner of the 2018 Etel Adnan Poetry Prize from the University of Arkansas Press. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Believer, Best New Poets, Kenyon Review, and elsewhere.

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It’s the Memory of Our Betters

On the moon, a blue jay, unsure         where it last left its nest
prays to Saint Anthony while on earth         someone incorrectly
adjusts a thermostat         & a museum         of natural history explodes—       creating

more natural history         Lost in awe in a light bulb

exhibit, reading every last placard, the sun explodes         as well, a pimple
from a Hubble away & yet:         The torch has been passed down, the sun sighs, smothered
beneath the rubble         Death comes to us full-

bellied but always craving         & the next time architects resurrect the museum,
precautions are taken to protect the art:         Patrons         please don’t

bleed on the paintings         & I force myself         to enjoy

this cappuccino in the frozen atrium         nothing like the natural
light my body stomachs, a funnel

stretched down my throat         in a vacuum         like the blue jay
back on the moon, eventually bluer than it was born to be

*first published in The Journal

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We Set Controls for the Heart

Death in a pair of skinny jodhpurs sulks off screen         Tickles my ears with its riding crop         The skeletal
closeness of a memory         framed through bony fingers         when I become this

body of refugees         Between whose cushions
will you one day find my body         A copper piece, face
erased, a long-lost limb holding a red cup         bouquet & impossible

to love anymore         Hello, this is my heart
Remember when I controlled even the birds         fed them from the growth

on your shadow         A carpet stained with moldy         emotions where you shoulder me to the front,
soldier me to my knees, solder some scrap metal over my frame         How useless a Mars Rover
metaphor seems right now         So why don’t you save me         for later         Let the birds

watch, wing         in wing         A love note
clicks on loud underfoot, a vest of cassette players taped to my chest with a laugh track of people
crying         & Death shouts Action shouts Action shouts Action

*first published in West Branch Wired

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