The Beautiful


amphibian brown water
tired moonlight through the pines

downriver, the banner of the free
stretched across a rotting truss bridge,
ruining and ruinous
the whole day through.

********I have a gun in my car,

along with alabaster cities
and entire pilgrim families
in salt and pepper shaker outfits,
husbands and wives
white and buckle-shined

********just for you.

two girls collect rocks to paint on—
flat-lined, shale-black and good for oil

********I wish

for a lifetime of nights
as beautiful as this

********I wish we could

sink into silt
scare off minnows darting away

********I wish we could
********ship out filthy homos like you to Uganda
********where they can kill you legally.

God hates
********the enameled plain
God hates
********the beer can floating by
God hates
********the little toads sleeping in their hollow rock pool
****************their filthy agenda

ruining this ruinous country,
a country in ruin—
********THAT’S RIGHT!!!!!!!!


that’s right
we are in a war—and losing.

you need to look out where you go,

prepare for the day some older kid
explains “can” vs. “may,”
“can” vs. “should”:
********you can murder someone, it’s just not legal,

and the fear dawns on you, and you think,
may God thy gold refine        man
you better be looking over your shoulder

out in the small pools and divots
hidden systems inside the rock

gnarled stump reaching out,
moon rippling down the eddies.

********There’s nothing decent about

the girls with their buckets full of rock canvases and slag,
wading this river that stretches the ruined state—

if they stand still enough in the cold water
they think they can hear an old, sweet song
from across the music-hearted sea:

mercy more than life

********by foot and knee


Alyse Knorr is an assistant professor of English at Regis University and editor of Switchback Books. She is the author of the poetry collections Mega-City Redux (Green Mountains Review 2017), Copper Mother (Switchback Books 2016), andAnnotated Glass (Furniture Press Books 2013), as well as the non-fiction book Super Mario Bros. 3 (Boss Fight Books 2016) and the poetry chapbooks Epithalamia (Horse Less Press 2015) and Alternates (dancing girl press 2014). Her work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Denver Quarterly, Columbia Poetry Review, The Greensboro Review, and ZYZZYVA, among others. She received her MFA from George Mason University, where she co-founded Gazing Grain Press.


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