"it's what we do in Florida, when there's no rain."

More Perihelion:

Bob Sward's Writer's Friendship Series

Book Reviews

Need to Know



Issue 14: The Double Issue

Issue 13: Free Form

Issue 12: The Necessary Ear

Issue 11: The Necessary Eye

Issue 10: Out on a Limb

Issue 9: The Missing Body

Issue 8: The Lily

Issue 7: Passages

Issue 6: No More Tears

Kelle Groom

Fire With Fire

Kiki Smith said there aren't any memorials to burned witches
so she makes sculptures of women on pyres, arms outstretched,
using the same woman's body over and over,

a woman made of wax who is taller than Kiki,
and as she speaks, the wax woman appears to turn slightly
to listen, to look her in the eye.

What breaks my heart most about Joan of Arc is the examination
afterwards, before they raked her ashes,
luckily she was long gone: the crowd come close to see her body

beneath her burned-off clothes, to know for certain if she was a boy or girl,
their looking makes my own chest cave as if I'm made of ash myself
or holding an invisible guitar

when I remember the medieval need to punish every cell
in a girl, forgetting that each palm is holy
no matter how you look at it

trying to destroy fire with fire,
it's what we do in Florida, when there's no rain
& wild fires in the woods, all the air trapped in a Bermuda High

balloon, the firemen burn brush in the direction a fire moves
to create an artificial clearing, the smaller fires burn out
the fuel, robbing the bigger, but if wind gusts and the fire

rages, nothing will contain it.


Three Men With Guns

If the earth's pull had been less,
we wouldn't have held on,
our atmosphere leaking into the Milky Way,
no ballads sung, no we, falling back.
In the heart of the Industrial Age, I fell asleep,
dreamed of three men in a speeding car,
rode beside them, as if the car were a cardboard
prop in a play, our bodies bumping up and down
to imitate movement. Then guns fired at windows
on the right—I ducked with the men, bullets
multi-pointed and endless as snow, nodding
to a beautiful song beyond you and inside you,
a travel song, despite the protests of fear,
of death, a successful emigration of the soul
beyond the body, though even this wasn't
clear until morning when I woke on a canopy
long gone, saw a newspaper open on the circle
of our breakfast table: each of the three men
had his own box, captured, a gun to each
temple, like spirits drawn on a piece of bone
that sings, an intercessor between the quarters.