Erin L. McCoy


Detached Objects



Butchertown is flooding again, 

            stew bones clot into small 


                        islands. Between our marrow 

           and muscle, a sopping 


tongue of moonshine laps and laps,

           and nothing is enough. Whereas,


           when lymph bathes the tissue, 

it drains on schedule, 


           like any tide. These cells

           you’re collecting do not die 


                      when they should

           See the ivy tear in slow motion 


                      through a brick wall. 

           Too far and it earns a new name. 


           Our city is dying the way rust 

coats some metals with a thin film, then 


           protects them. Like her stroke wiped away 

                      all but the child, imposter cell


disguised in benign skin. Meanwhile, a comet 

           burns off its water and oxygen 


           in a furious light. No 

corrosion, just a whittling-


           down into eventual naught.

                      The radio says 


                      there is no free will, 

           so it’s not my fault 


           that she should be forgiven 

and I can’t. 


           You were born

                      here, like she was, but look 


at your steady hand: meadow with the sun 

                      melting down around it. This

           is our city. I cycle back 


           as though compelled. One day, 

                      carapace cracked


                      in a spring tide, exposed silver

                                 organ reflecting 


                      a ghastly 

           firmament: no more 


waiting for the moon to hurt. 

           Let it. 




Blue crumbling off the night sky          and you and I look good together, friend, 

crawling around blindly          feeling for holes in the dirt       flakes of blue chalk 


on our fingers          We invent the dark again and again          They say there was life 

before this          scrabbling paws, hooves compacting the worms, the worms 


persisting Here          is the trick: you hold the hare by its ears then          distract it 

We drew stars by not chalking in those parts          Or the audience hiccups


and the hare transforms into a pigeon          There’s a blue beam burrowing straight

down into the earth beside the interstate          We are smeared to our elbows 


each hole empty          and we’ve found no evidence of anything below or above

Still, is it so wrong to believe          we are just a mole away from important This 


is our dream: see its small nose squirming between          two degenerative eyes 

Hard to call progress but we try          Let’s be very clear Home means to kneel


on the same earth beside each other          means as the night feathers into a fickle end

folding our arms behind our heads, cars churning by          and drawing the same 


constellations in the sky by eliminating everything else          survival being 

the noblest goal          and flying being antithetical to it, changing the pigeoned hare


once more          into something blind to the stars          but belonging better 

to this earth than I ever did, tunneling always          through enchantment

Erin L. McCoy, a native of Louisville, Kentucky, holds an MFA in poetry and an MA in Hispanic studies from the University of Washington. Her poem, “Futures,” was selected by Natalie Diaz for inclusion in Best New Poets 2017, and her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Bennington Review, Pleiades, DIAGRAM, Cimarron Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, and other publications.


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Nat. Brut is a proud winner of a 2020 Whiting Literary Magazine Prize