sporklet 1

Nina Puro

(Three Poems)


Thicket of Pins

The milk they fed you on long 
soured, but you give 
it anyway. Your given name 
blackberry bramble, your given name
queen of sorrow. We are all
so thirsty in the village
of what we once wanted. Don’t
you know where to hang
god’s eye, blueeyes? Don’t
you know language is useless? That
I stitched the blanket I wrapped 
the wreck in? Don’t
you know goodbye lasted 
a decade? Goodbye
each room’s still flooded
to the chandeliers. Goodbye
fish swam slow circles between 
the chair rungs. Goodbye 
they know a language we don’t. I can’t
name the marled color of the fishes’ 
eyes or how they match the crystal 
goblets broken there but 
always full now, or how the glasses
match the warm cups that suck 
the poison from your back in a 
backroom in Chinatown where 
the radiator hisses steam but 
the linen curtain’s filled & 
emptied & filled with cold
air from the cracked
window. Your spine
an open door. I’m not
sure anymore if memory is one
air & history is the other or if we 
are the blade where they 
meet. I thought we’d be more
than air swallowed or said, dust
motes & phone wires 
for miles. I’ve goodbyed 
the sill where the jasmine tendrilled out & 
out & browned into 
a broken umbrella. I’ve this
to give: I’ll go back 
over the hill to where the little 
house was kerosened, walk into to the little
house still smoldering. I’ll
go back glad.

Before the River Burned, But After It Ran Backwards

Late August, lilies
in a blacked-out
backroom wait
on ice to garnish
thigh or coffin. Each
cold flare
the fissure between
forefinger & thumb,
platform & train.

To comfort a citizen,
wrap them in neon or run
out for cream,
promise to run
through their
ghosts, run through
run until pressed with
canoe light & grapefruit peels.

To walk through wolf-breath days, have
a body like tissue folded in & in
on itself, that waiting-room
box & all hands
that pull one out & why.

We’re granted a moon to yank & anchor us,
a body & a purse
to carry & fill & empty
& transform into more objects.
There’s a sheen inside each body
florescence on sealed cellophane
& a scrap airless as inside.

I bring you cuttings from the jade tree,
jars of water wrapped in muslin,
itemized receipts, an orange
plastic pull-tab, my daddy’s biscuits & blown
arteries. The river swims
with red, my mouth with
static. You say you don’t know
how to swim.

My instruction manual
on how to change the river’s color
goes like so: stare at magnets. Eat
nothing but chalk &
Hostess cakes.

Even light’s
a fucking traitor. Day
grown thinner
each time eyes unglue
from phone.

Here are my grimy hands,
which I was saving for later, & my mind,
which I was trying to waste.

Here are rusted sword, cabbage rose, everyone’s daily
paused cusp—the wait for stoplight
or mind to change.

Look there’s a little flare
in each of us down a well
that I can push
whatever I want in or out of.

Tender my uncle to his moose,
benevolent the bone
saw between each rib,
the plastic straw between
my teeth.

There’s benevolence in broken glass,
in the ability to reverse the swallow,
in what sits
in the stomach of
that rock we’re on.

Quickening laced
with foxgloves. Bony elbows.

Our terrible little
for rain & good bread &
inconsequential disappointment:
as if by hammering at my bathtub
I could erase the world.

Coal to Newcastle

That summer stripped
of pigment. I was a canary.


We were both canaries but never
said it. We tried to learn why sun bleaches


objects but darkens skin. Our teeth grew

more teeth but we were swung

the sweetest songs, thunked dead

off big shoulders. We learned

how to say what was happening: firedamp,

afterdamp, blackdamp, whitedamp, stinkdamp,

chokedamp but knew nobody’d care—

big ears don’t speak canary. They bought us


Groupons to have our jaws changed

from hollow bone to crystal. The wind didn’t know


much but it was always there to swirl

the rough away. Mostly we couldn’t touch


that bad wind. Only hear it howl

from inside granite. We learned


to plunder our own tills, to museum
our lice-ridden childhoods. My voice bolted


with a pronged gold fastener
to a gingham skirt waving in the wind.


It carried what might kill us. Inside, we carried
what would if it didn’t.

Nina Puro’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in places including Better: Culture & Lit, H_ngm_n, Indiana Review, and the PEN Poetry Series. A chapbook, Two Truths & A Lie, is forthcoming from dancing girl. She lives and works in Brooklyn, where she is a literary publicist.