January 14, 2022

A series of Golden Shovels inspired by True Detective, Season 1, Episode 5 



You ask where I am from: where I untangled my fingers from womb: I

shift to reverse/  blanket our songs like a new snake’s stomach:  I know

that truth is just a lie with a clean petticoat: spit-shine boots: a way to say what

the moon wanted in our moment of conception: combustion happens

with or without our permission: our innocent, unscathed knees. On the next

page of the story I am searching for a holy candle in the shape of an otter: I

am in the right city but on the wrong street: maps & mosquitoes/ buzz saw /

a matchstick girl by the river: the river of ice / river of rivers / never lets you

begin with a different name. You say be careful when the sun wraps itself in

water: there are words that crawl from sewer to sidewalk. To understand my

first howl: the impact of arrival: follow the good bones of this dream.



The choir was a silent bird. And

a glass-faced priest was incanting that

invitation from Jesus, suffer the little

children, and I am a hungry/dangerous boy

that follows the helpless/hungry deer and

I am asleep in the circle of trees with that

deer face on my face, oh blessed oh little

shadow shaped like a bird-less girl,

like a sinking ship without rats: they're

not gonna drown in salt, not ever gonna

drown in salt. This is not the story I wanted to be

but I am not afraid to be locked in

the hull of that rat-less ship, of that

moment I drowned with a stone, the room

where I will leave her behind again,

where I will kiss her feathered face and

I will wave my hands like a bird again,

and I and I and I and I and I and

I am a hunter/a pillar of salt again.

A choir without a mouth. Forever.



First: 1988 folding into 1989 like rising bread. Second: this
child of hangover-story friends hypnotized by vinyl albums, feeling
the grooves under his un-inked fingerprints, the turn and turn like
his birth video on fast-forward / like tornadoes / his good life.
Third: tequila past midnight,  past the moment where time has
forced a collision of lips / of noise-makers /of auld-lang syne / I slipped
from clothes into clothes-less-ness like blue-bonnet Alice through
the looking glass / down the rabbit hole / chased by loud flowers / choose your
metaphor. Fourth: the first day of the year as cold as grandmothers’ fingers:
hot shower/ hot coffee/ the crackle of bacon in the pan like
the dead rising from dirt. Fifth: I knew without peeing on the
stick / without the rabbit test / without the tarot cards / an old future
had crept into my body as one year crept into the next. This story is
true. I promise every crackle of my memory leaves nothing behind:
not the spinning album / not the child / not the name I gave you.
Maybe you didn’t want to be here - like
you already knew it’s
a riot of spinning without end / always
a needle under your fingernails – like the field of shouting flowers has always been



Beth Gordon is a poet, mother and grandmother currently living in Asheville, NC. Her poetry has been published in Citron Review, Passages North, EcoTheo Review, RHINO, Barren, Pidgeonholes, Pithead Chapel, and others. Her full-length poetry collection, This Small Machine of Prayer, was published July 2021 (Kelsay Books); and her chapbook, The Water Cycle, is forthcoming from Variant Literature in January 2022. She is Managing Editor of Feral: A Journal of Poetry and Art, Assistant Editor of Animal Heart Press, and Grandma of Femme Salve Books.