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Bradley Trumpfheller


from Home Guard

What is to be done with events that have no place of their own in time?

— Bruno Schulz

There could be photographs of us growing old together,

strung out like magnolia on the laundry line. In one,

your hand folded into the pocket of your Dad’s old overalls.

In another, the older man with scars under his chest holds

his wife like wings. We know all the right words for each other.

You say girlhood and the pianos plinking out their bouquets.

I say glass roses and brick by brick the sunset coming down

like angels around us. Neon haloing the lids of the aspens.

O altar boy. O fairy queen. Some nights I wake to the sound

of someone with a knife carving my birth name into the trunk

of a dead tree. Say it. [          ]. Glass roses. Like angels folding

their wings. Bring the drummer boys back. The man’s soft,

possible hands. Light from his wedding band we have

mistaken for a door. A door we’ve mistaken for the world.


Even the world, even his mouth, [          ]. There’s no

such thing as neon yet and it backlights us. Why tell you

anything that happened? In a dream, my face is against

the fence, his rope, a blue noise. Everything I’ve prayed

for was something I wanted to remember. My good

face in the dirt. The handcuffs clicking like lanterns

into place. Like starlight. His blond nightstick. My white

nightgown. We are so indistinguishable from us. I clap

my hands. And the handcuffs coming apart. And the cops

bleeding their cop-blood. Someone is saying catch up.

Someone is saying come closer. Every fence unlaces its trellis

like a dress. Listen: it doesn’t matter when we are

if we would end the world for each other. What a carceral

brightness I christen. What an ancient song I follow.


Knows how the sound of metal knows its constellation.

Any day slackening across the sky’s stitch. A smoothed

skirt. Storms siren overhead. I’m running out of time.

When I was a boy, even the water knew my names.

Everywhere else, the body is just undone with dawns.

Here by dawn we’re done dying, gasping, a lock picked

and each weeping bone pulled into its noise. A throatfuck.

A tremor. It’s such an old story. Bridge: bridge: road:

fence: boy: bone: [          ]: dark. Almost-heaven’s a treeline

erased into a map. Minutehand, hourhand, crowbar on

gravel. Do you understand? Some days I forget myself

of angels. Catch up. When I was alive, I wanted to write

about anything but this. How we are only ever the weight

of what they bury us in, waiting like light to be found.

from Reconstructions

Across the sore blue particle board

           of the rest stop bathroom an hour from Gulfport

someone scratched There are trans people here

the time it takes to travel

                          from siren to fanfare—

            their knifepoint, I think, your hand

                                      on my leg, the smell of headlights

over water—any of our backs

                         unclenching in the honeysuckle

             are little breaths, little glass

                                      bells undone with sounding.

I lost I lost I lost something in these hills.

                         Any image begins

                                                  in violence.

Our faces in the bathroom mirror mean only our faces.

Glass bottomed boats dragging shrapnel

                                                 behind them

                         like hands. There

are trans people      here. Here: my hands

              an archive of your belly laugh.

                                      My breasts the history of

                                      my breasts.

Our breath, being held.

                                                    & somewhere else, a boy

            setting his right eye gently to his rifle’s sight.

A veil & a veil, being lifted.

Bradley Trumpfheller Author Photo.JPG

Bradley Trumpfheller is the author of the chapbook Reconstructions (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2020) and the co-editor of Divedapper. They are from Virginia & Alabama.


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