Devil’s Lake

Fall 2016 Issue

CL Bledsoe & Michael Gushue: I Told You

The world is burning. Throwing hundred-dollar

bills into the flames won’t put out the fire.

The movie ends, but the film still jumps

the sprockets like two animals fucking.

We’re asleep in the aisles, wanting

another theater with more popcorn,

better seats, a movie we can learn to love.

Every spring, the lilies of the field grow

more cynical. They don’t like us hanging

around all the time. The fish in the sea,

and the fish in the air, and the fish stuck

in commuter traffic all have the same tattoo:

Not What I Expected. Because this is not

the kind of elevator shaft you can step into

and get a four-course meal at the bottom.

Instead it’s laundry baskets as far back

as the worst day. The doors open to a man

screaming that Jesus doesn’t like you anymore;

that’s why all your calls go to voicemail.

Poem Written On a Boneless Chicken Breast and Lobbed Through the Window of Our Decadent Lives


The problem with Abaddon is that it’s so hard

to feng shui. The curtains don’t match

the furniture; the rug doesn’t match

the fruit basket. Puce is not a color;

it’s a way of life. Those stairs are a mess,

can’t tell if they go up or down. The abyss

is what makes a house a home. That and dust.

And WD-40. And the constant screaming

that makes meditation a real chore. Speaking

of chores, here’s a toothbrush and a pin.

When you’re done with the living room, start on

the not-living room, the hiding-under-the-covers-

for-fear-of-monsters room, the room where we traded

our hearts for tinder, so they can splinter and burn.


The after party for Armageddon was so over,

but the gift bags were a revelation. A swan

suspended in a vat of honey, a mask shaped

like burning. The horses of the Apocalypse nibbled

apples, sugar cubes, bones, Mount Rushmore.

Bottom line: you’ve no business being alive

on the surface of the earth where gravity

is required by law to hold you in place

like a stepmother who, as you’re begging her

to take you in until a spot opens up in a wilderness

program, says, “Please, we couldn’t possibly

spare any room with all the piles of money

around the house. How about waiting

until after we’ve all been thrown into the fire?”

CL BLEDSOE is the assistant editor for The Dead Mule and author of fourteen books, most recently the poetry collection Trashcans in Love and the flash fiction collection Ray’s Sea World. He lives in northern Virginia with his daughter.

MICHAEL GUSHUE is the co-founder with Dan Vera of Poetry Mutual. He co-curates the intermittent reading series Poetry at the Watergate with Deborah Ager. His chapbooks are Gathering Down Women (Pudding House Press), Conrad (Souvenir Spoon Books), and Pachinko Mouth (Plan B Press). He lives in Washington D.C.

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