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  • Writer's pictureLammergeier Staff

Two Poems | Jendi Reiter

Updated: Jan 28

Kill Your Darlings

for Christopher Moltisanti

You know who had an ark? Not me, I'm staying

in the flood with the carnivores

whose reptilian sludge our sportscars burn.

Away they go, the saved,

horse and horse, bitch

and stud, to write the winners' script

I only imitated, flannelboard child.

The teacher of little saints

didn't give us the drowned characters to play with —

the extinct lizards, the doe with damaged womb

who's useless to be paired off.

I could have gone

west with the raven

who never returned, traded bullets'

rattle for keystrokes

in a screenwriters' room,

spilled names instead of my own

salty tides rising up in my throat.

I don't imagine much anymore

but when I saw the tunnel

through my shot spleen, and came back,

I knew why the dinosaurs didn't follow the new god

to higher ground. Held each other under

the indicting waters.

Now I'm taking my father's oath. An ink-

black beak taps the window.

Now it's gone.


for Tony Soprano

Let me go mad again

so the lilting signorina

will reappear with my window breeze —

her bodice half undone, the sun in her arms;

let her not turn so soon

into a white sheet winding

on the doctor's clothesline.

Let me cease to breathe

the bloody air

the recorded coloratura sweetens

over the ruined amphitheater

of lobster shells;

let an embrace be an embrace

of men, and not the sling

that drains the knocked cow,

till it is time.

My arms are tired

from all these bones.

Let me meet the bear

in the night with a cigar

by my leaf-strewn pool, or under

the sooty howl of the turnpike

at a pay phone

where no one can trace the number

of his claws.

Let me choke on my mother's

milk, and her unsold home

where photos in an empty room

of my dead father make my eyes roll back

like fixed Lotto balls.

This time, when she laughs

at my face-scraping fall

down her front steps, let me not rise

for her heart moves no more

than the porch's aluminum awning.

And when I fall

let the migrant feathers scatter.

There's no one whose death I haven't wished for.

Jendi Reiter is the author of five poetry books and chapbooks, most recently Made Man (Little Red Tree, 2022); the story collection An Incomplete List of My Wishes (Sunshot Press/New Millennium Writings, 2018); and the novel Two Natures (Saddle Road Press, 2016), which won the Rainbow Award for Best Gay Contemporary Fiction. Their novel Origin Story is forthcoming from Saddle Road Press in 2024. They are the editor of the writing resource site

Twitter: @JendiReiter

Want more Jendi? Check out their Featured Poet Interview!



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