Bottoming Out by Devon Balwit

“The neurochemistry is so similar that it’s scary,” –Julian Pittman

O blue piscine, droop-finned.
O saline sorrow, interested in nothing

but bottom-muck, ventral and anal fins
dragging pebbles, the world muffled

by glass, only boredom within reach,
circuit after circuit, the same effort

to go the same distance, gills laboring,
tank water ever less breathable.

Please—a scuba diver, a dropped leaf,
a stick, a new feng shui—anything

to lift her to surface dapple, to a scalene
of odd angles. Imagine yourself

in such nothingness and count days.
A handful would break you, a lifetime

and your mouth would be as hers—gaping—
streamers of shit looping slow circles.

 

Sharktank_at_Newport_Aquarium

 

Devon Balwit teaches in Portland, OR. She has six chapbooks and two collections out or forthcoming: How the Blessed Travel (Maverick Duck Press); Forms Most Marvelous (dancing girl press); In Front of the Elements (Grey Borders Books), Where You Were Going Never Was (Grey Borders Books); The Bow Must Bear the Brunt (Red Flag Poetry); We are Procession, Seismograph (Nixes Mate Books), Risk Being/ Complicated (with the Canadian artist Lorette C. Luzajic), and Motes at Play in the Halls of Light (Kelsay Books). Her individual poems can be found or are upcoming in Cordite, The Cincinnati Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Fifth Wednesday, The Ekphrastic Review, Red Earth Review, The Fourth River, The Free State Review, Rattle, Posit, and more.

Postures by Devon Balwit

The cellist rests her instrument between
her knees, finds the sway

and draws her bow. Atlas fits his shoulder
to the groove of the Earth, lifting.

The dog circles before settling, lays
his nose daintily across a paw.

The poet teases out spider-silk as long
as she has a body like the trees

that kindle then stand naked
in their bones, unabashed at being seen.

 

 

Devon Balwit teaches in Portland, OR. She has six chapbooks and two collections out or forthcoming: How the Blessed Travel (Maverick Duck Press); Forms Most Marvelous (dancing girl press); In Front of the Elements (Grey Borders Books), Where You Were Going Never Was (Grey Borders Books); The Bow Must Bear the Brunt (Red Flag Poetry); We are Procession, Seismograph (Nixes Mate Books), Risk Being/ Complicated (with the Canadian artist Lorette C. Luzajic), and Motes at Play in the Halls of Light (Kelsay Books). Her individual poems can be found or are upcoming in Cordite, The Cincinnati Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Fifth Wednesday, The Ekphrastic Review, Red Earth Review, The Fourth River, The Free State Review, Rattle, Posit, and more.

 

 

Detail of The Cellist, 1908, by Joseph DeCamp.

Clothes Make the (Wo)Man by Devon Balwit

“It was a hat for the great and lonely” —Hein Donner

Where is my page to arm me for the day,
fastening greaves and hauberk? Where
my factotum? Must I do everything myself?

I lean towards the mirror, draw on a mustache,
powder my sideburns to be taken seriously.
A wig adds gravitas. I oil both smirk and frown.

One never knows what face will be called for.
There was a time when I had only one, when
I stood in my nakedness before hoodlums.

I learned, swallowing teeth and coppery blood,
smearing snot and tears on coat sleeves.
Now, I dress as though I’ve already won.

No one dares tell me otherwise. And if
they snicker behind my back, no matter.
My suit is thick, my shoulders well-padded.

 

 

Devon Balwit teaches in Portland, OR. She has six chapbooks and two collections out or forthcoming: How the Blessed Travel (Maverick Duck Press); Forms Most Marvelous (dancing girl press); In Front of the Elements (Grey Borders Books), Where You Were Going Never Was (Grey Borders Books); The Bow Must Bear the Brunt (Red Flag Poetry); We are Procession, Seismograph (Nixes Mate Books), Risk Being/ Complicated (with the Canadian artist Lorette C. Luzajic), and Motes at Play in the Halls of Light (Kelsay Books). Her individual poems can be found or are upcoming in Cordite, The Cincinnati Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Fifth Wednesday, The Ekphrastic Review, Red Earth Review, The Fourth River, The Free State Review, Rattle, Posit, and more.

The Great Con by Devon Balwit

The old dog
shuffles stiff,
whiffles

to test
the familiar,
pressing nose

to the meat
of me
before circling

into place
with a whumph
of yielding.

I have fooled
him
and feel bad—

good
in the singular,
but in the aggregate

wiping out
the earth
as he knows it.

 

 

Devon Balwit teaches in Portland, OR. She has six chapbooks and two collections out or forthcoming: How the Blessed Travel (Maverick Duck Press); Forms Most Marvelous (dancing girl press); In Front of the Elements (Grey Borders Books), Where You Were Going Never Was (Grey Borders Books); The Bow Must Bear the Brunt (Red Flag Poetry); We are Procession, Seismograph (Nixes Mate Books), Risk Being/ Complicated (with the Canadian artist Lorette C. Luzajic), and Motes at Play in the Halls of Light (Kelsay Books). Her individual poems can be found or are upcoming in Cordite, The Cincinnati Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Fifth Wednesday, The Ekphrastic Review, Red Earth Review, The Fourth River, The Free State Review, Rattle, Posit, and more.

A Desperate Season by Devon Balwit

Leaves flare
a loosening
of petioles,

a foot-shuffling
rustle
of rain-sticks.

Squash smirk,
lopsided,
match-hungry.

The days fold
ever smaller—
messages

held beneath
the tongue
and passed

through barbed wire
to the hands
of sympathizers.

 

 

Devon Balwit teaches in Portland, OR. She has six chapbooks and two collections out or forthcoming: How the Blessed Travel (Maverick Duck Press); Forms Most Marvelous (dancing girl press); In Front of the Elements (Grey Borders Books), Where You Were Going Never Was (Grey Borders Books); The Bow Must Bear the Brunt (Red Flag Poetry); We are Procession, Seismograph (Nixes Mate Books), Risk Being/ Complicated (with the Canadian artist Lorette C. Luzajic), and Motes at Play in the Halls of Light (Kelsay Books). Her individual poems can be found or are upcoming in Cordite, The Cincinnati Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Fifth Wednesday, The Ekphrastic Review, Red Earth Review, The Fourth River, The Free State Review, Rattle, Posit, and more.

 

Original photograph by Khlim28. 

Until You Could Not Tell Them Apart by Devon Balwit

And the wolf leaned over the sleeper,
and the sleeper slept, wrapped

in his breathing. His hide became
her blanket, cushioning where

thigh met thigh and breast, breast.
The sleeper dreamed

of the prick of claws, of the prick
of a prick, and blood

rushed to her cheeks and to where
blood rushes, and she

sighed. The wolf panted, and she,
also. And the wild night

streamed light, the wolf riding it,
buoyed by a wildness

wild as his own. They were both
and singular, wolf and sleeper,

they curled into one another until
you could not tell them apart.

 

 

Devon Balwit is a writer/teacher from Portland, OR. She has five chapbooks out in the world. Her poems have appeared in Rattle, The New Verse News, Poets Reading the News, Redbird Weekly Reads, Rise-Up Review, Rat’s Ass Review, The Rising Phoenix Review, Mobius, What Rough Beast, and more.

In Consideration of Things Seen or Only Felt by Devon Balwit

Approaching sirens wail, but I examine
glistening stonefly larva, balled

in an open palm, and a regal moth coif, elaborate
as any contessa’s. I count

the feathers of a barred owl’s wings,
for a moment shielded

by their spread blessing. I know the fate
of this and every other poem

having recently wandered the stacks
of the largest bookstore in my town,

pitying the slim volumes huddling
for warmth, each orphaned darling.

Better to consider the crystalline perfection
of snowflakes delivered

by the same technology that pinpoints
airstrikes but cannot spare

noncombatants, or to lose myself
in the archives of the surrealists,

a preserve for insomniac dreams,
the meticulous obsessions of three a.m.

As covertly as a masturbator, I pour over
Paphiopedilum and Phalaenopsis,

blossoms spread like blood-swollen privates—
all of this, species and souls,

evanescing, as it would even were the State
benevolent, and the earth not wheeling

at 1,550 km/hour, spinning skin into crepe,
bones into spun-sugar filigree.
 
 
 
Devon Balwit is a writer/teacher from Portland, OR. She has five chapbooks out in the world. Her poems have appeared in Rattle, The New Verse News, Poets Reading the News, Redbird Weekly Reads, Rise-Up Review, Rat’s Ass Review, The Rising Phoenix Review, Mobius, What Rough Beast, and more.