Monday May 27

CoutleyLisaFay--creditLillian-YvonneBertram Lisa Fay Coutley is the author of Errata (Southern Illinois UP, forthcoming 2015), winner of the 2014 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition Award, and In the Carnival of Breathing (Black Lawrence Press, 2011), winner of the Black River Chapbook Competition. Her poems have been awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, scholarships to the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers Conferences, an Academy of American Poets Levis Prize, and have appeared recently or are forthcoming in Kenyon Review, Gulf Coast, Crazyhorse, and Best of the Net. She is a PhD candidate at the University of Utah, where she served as poetry editor for Quarterly West.


The Way The Plot

always unexpectedly the apple
           falls rotten from the top
                       tier of the wire basket           

dull thud  dumb roll  always
           while your back is turned
                      & you’re spooling           

noodles with the small clean fork
           on any otherwise quiet day
                       so it strikes you like a man           

you loved silhouetted against a garage
           wall behind your bright headlights
                      holding the cordless phone          

away from his face that tells you everything
           the chaplain on the other end will say
                       about slight snow just covering

pine needles & maple leaves  soft  soft webbing
            beneath that cracked bathroom window
                       where your mother did not fall           

soaping in the shower or suffer a stroke
           folding laundry or prepare you
                       for loss that nails your knees           

to this filthy floor   that forever catch-
           of-breath when wrist-deep in warm
                       water  hips pressed just enough           

against the sink to forget a moment
           of your weight  hips just past craving
                       his hands to your sway some           

fruit you meant to eat hums low
           in the throat of every paradise
                       you’ve been asked to leave.


It’s not that you’re unsure if tomorrow
will come, but if you’ll saunter into it

with shoes & socks or barefoot & tight  
inside ice skates. Always shuttling

some son through some dark, pulling away
from curbs without looking. Sometimes

metal, sometimes glass. Breathing’s the act
of faith the dead must unlearn. In your dreams,

shot in the gut, electrocuted, shoved
from an orphanage window, you feel cheated

to wake as the last governed shutter blades
dark & sharp counter the clock & all hurt

abandons you, then, when your heart’s final
word is clear: leave behind, quit, go go go

Portrait as Facts of Energy Between Us


Alone your heart thrums enough
to light a small lamp or power a hand
held radio. Together our two hearts
could charge a guitar amp. You & I
emanate the color of a small sun
& people orbit around us even
when we need to be alone. We tend
our better health when we’re in love.
Each level of energy registering higher
octaves than the next until we reach
the I-Thou, the rainbow, the golden
egg, knowing perfection within our
imperfections. Divine will is a blueprint.
A white line perforating the center of our
bodies roots us to the same space of earth.
I pencil into a lake. You bury your dreads
in a mountain cave. Intersecting streambed,
vortex, radiant cloud, little television set.
I’ll let you play the stronger field. Slam
me against your frequency, other half
of this red secret that cannot be kept.

CoutleyLisaFay--credit Lillian-Yvonne Bertram