Back to Issue Twenty-One.

of destinations



this is destruction         splash of gasoline

a hornet’s nest knocked from the overhang
            the bodies      curled
                                    brittle the thorax
                                                the wing

I have slipped in and out
                       of destinations—

                       a word that implies more than passing
                                               implies meant to be

smoke rolls up from the south
            summer months
                                               the swamp is burning
                                               has burned                                                

will continue                this unvarying landscape

long stretches of highway
                                    the marsh grass
                                    dried golden and hollow

last week I woke with no idea
            where I was      or who lay next to me                     

                        I am searching for something

                                   less ephemeral
            among the young and unattached             

a dangerous thing—an eave
                                   an extended invitation            

that we should arrive so willingly
                        at this paper house

that we should stand over it
            as it burns        but tenderly  



the path of pins or the path of needles



Come closer: this house is full of keyholes.
           Glass knobs
                      fractured, faceted—

           You could spend your life here.
A door swings open:
                                             time stops
                                 quick as a watch.             

Look: there you are,
            sitting on the edge
                                 of a bed, a patchwork quilt,
                        hand raised
                                       to comb your hair.

                        This is not a farmhouse.
     There are no chickens in the yard,
                                       no tomato vines
                                          curling up the casement.

                                                      This is no bad dream disguised
                                       as something clever.

                        The hallway’s full of white doors,
                                   brass keyholes.

                                   The walls are crumbling,
                                               ants carry off the smaller pieces. 
            Crickets have poisoned the well.   

                                                            Be still.
In the kitchen, a woman hunched
                                   over the ashes of old cigarettes
                        keeps your name in her basket.



Kyla Sterling earned her MFA in poetry at UNC–Greensboro. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Painted Bride Quarterly, Parcel, Radar Poetry, Blackbird, Barrow Street, and Notre Dame Review, among others. Her first chapbook, Warnings & Fables, is forthcoming with dancing girl press. She currently lives in Athens, Georgia, with her husband and their cat.

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