Stutter

Billiter’s poems, spaced to stutter on the page, create a compelling yet dark world of small-town childhood that is disorienting and not all that bucolic. The town of Shinbone is an intense place: boys set bottles of cheap aftershave on fire, which segues with uncomfortable ease into grandmother’s killing axe dispatching chickens and Soup’s hand shredded in the corn dryer. This collection pushes a recollected past to an extreme, replacing memory with myth and lacing narratives of disfigurement, accident, wildness, and murder with a strange enchantment. Childhood here is no idyll, but rather the dreamlike entryway to the desires, doubts, and dismay of adulthood.

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Selected by

Hilda Raz

publisher

pages

72


AFTER A NIGHT OF STEADY RAIN

Under these old      lindens a couple      of long ago
kids pressed      bare feet      into wet cement, left
imprints of their soles      in the sidewalk.      Water pools
in them now, little      baptismal fonts      in the lost church
of childhood. Go      ahead, no      one is looking. Kneel
down, dip      your fingers into those      sacred puddles,
anoint yourself      in the shade of the lindens.        The sap of all
saplings still      pulses through       crooked limbs.

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