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/nicole rollender

Locution V. He is the Law Of Crows

Which is to say / one hundred or more / crows gather / when one dies. / None touch / the final glisten of black / feathers, foot / or eye / earth-bound now. Spreading our hair / in honey / over the door / guard us in / our city of sleep. We assemble the crib / hang the mobile of blue- / yellow birds’ / fanciful flights. I wish for a vampire / killing kit / antique box / with a bronze / crucifix, holy water, a hammer / stakes / the face of my Lord / that fragments / my rainy night into / feathers / oil / the remnants / of nostalgia / the dangers / when I sifted through my grandfather’s / black-and-white photos / of Europe in 1944 as he crossed countries / as a soldier / with his camera / sheep next to a bombed house, a child / holding an apple / her eyes forever / full of loneliness / as when I spent summers / at the lake / near Otter Island. / The desolation / of not fitting with other girls / but still the lap / of gray water / as I lay in / a musty hammock that comforting / sound never left / my body / rocking in slanted / sun / smell of marsh grass / the lull of loons / a time where / I could still / belong. Which is to say / should we stop / calling them a murder? / They harbinger. / Candle- blown-out. / They cry / loudly / as babies / calling in the dark / to float on water.

Locution VI. Bleeding is Burning is Survival

My grandmother / bled in secret / strange / natural wonder / her remote / mother never explained. / There’s a glacier / faraway that bleeds / gruesome crimson / saltwater’s ancient / basin without / light, heat or air / what we need / to thrive / the water too salty to freeze / so when it pierces / tiny fissures / in the ice / cascading bloody into the Antarctic. / My favorite music / to play / (survive) / in my vintage / fireball red Trans Am: / heavy metal / coppery riffs / caustic smell / my first bleed/ that taut tether / to the feminine / my ’80s biker jacket / for a dude / made me infamous / in high school / squeak of seams / pungent petrol / smell deep / in old cow hide / but maybe we all / need a second skin / an intercession: / O Holy God / our world’s disappearing / there’s no guarantee / I’ll have an eternal / abode / lamentations & / Revelation’s rivers / of blood or the calcifying / Tanzanian lake / that turns / animals & birds / to stone / feathers filigreed / by natron / in the water / silver over gray wing / bones & ribs / like bodies mothers & beasts / frozen forever / in Pompeii ash / our migration / suspended.

A 2017 NJ Council on the Arts poetry fellow, Nicole Rollender is the author of the poetry collection Louder Than Everything You Love (Five Oaks Press) and four poetry chapbooks. She has won poetry prizes from Palette Poetry, Gigantic Sequins, CALYX Journal and Ruminate Magazine. Her work appears in Alaska Quarterly Review, Best New Poets, Ninth Letter, Puerto del Sol, Salt Hill Journal and West Branch, among many other journals. Nicole is managing editor of THRUSH Poetry Journal, and holds an MFA from the Pennsylvania State University. She’s also co-founder and CEO of Strand Writing Services. Visit her online: www.nicolemrollender.com.

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