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Trapper Markelz

A midnight clear

You ate mushrooms and drove your car

on snowy roads to dodge hallucination

when a lumpy form revealed beneath Isuzu lights.

It was real and bleeding with arms pinned back

in waves of glass that had no apparent maker.

You banged on a door to call the police,

tight air pulling at your goosebumps.

It was real. It was all real. He crashed his car

and bled on the road, and you did eat those shrooms,

and you did save him from quiet depleting

and frosty sleep and no one asked to see your license.

The policeman did not ask to smell your breath

or look between your teeth, so you drove away,

refused to blink, pupils as black as a burn barrel,

until the dogs loudly greeted you home.

It seems like the back wheel got him

On a mountain road among the Sitka spruce

and paper birch, a robin no bigger than a baseball

and thrown down the pass at similar speed, found

the piercing tip of our Plymouth hood ornament,

transformed from airborne streak to scarlet bloom

of inter pink and splashing ruby waters whose

seawall became the slanted glass of a 60 mile-per-hour

minivan; an evaporation so sudden it resembled

a camera flash, complete with hands, flying up

to shield wide eyes as my mother furiously worked

the wiper blades to erase the jerky murder.

Previously, on this same road, a squirrel crossed

urgent between truck wheels and with a soft tap

was at once extinguished. I remember measuring

my father’s face with a slow gaze, and he said

the only thing that made sense in that moment.

Off to war, daughter

You shoveled snow, like so many before

on a cracked drive above cicada carcasses.

You felt the ground spasm in your boots and

shovel blade, richtered firm enough to raise

your head as the freight cars drifted by.

They carried shiny tanks, the color of sand

off to some hidden battle. You stood there

in your snowsuit feeling warm and safe

and you were correct in that snowfall moment,

in that manicured town of train tracks

and craft brew commuters. That same train

would vibrate the walls later that night, steal

your dreams, leave warm weapons

around this world in which we all sleep.

Someone made us vulnerable daily

for a reason, built a premeditated boundary

of helplessness behind all our closed eyes

and prone forms. Maybe sleep is practice,

a perpetual motion machine, grinding

us up like barbed wire on an endless beach

of infinite bullets and tank-colored sand

where we lay down over and over and over again.

Trapper Markelz (he/him) is a husband, father of four, poet, musician, and cyclist, who writes from Boston, Massachusetts. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in the journals Baltimore Review, Stillwater Review, Passengers Journal, Prometheus Dreaming, Dillydoun Review, and others. You can learn more about him at

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