"Captures" I sprayed for tiny ants late last night, killing the spider doing its best to corral them. Between the sheets I struggled hand to hand with old lovers and other aliens descending cosmic ladders to pincer my heart, boiling them in the ichor my bare claws released from their flesh. But this morning, I catch a humpback cricket in the sink, cup it between my hands and toss it out the back door to take its chances. This morning, I’m mild as a painted virgin, my hands empty of slaughter.
"The Knife Now" You might be Abraham trudging up that slope or equally Isaac— you can’t tell by how your feet fall on the path or the color of the sky. Maybe you’re the ram at his daily browse ensnared by the bush, or the angel summoned out of itself mid-hover— no end to it to the burning on top of the mountain to the bared throats. We try to take in something we can’t quite compass each of us looking up
Valerie Nieman’s poetry has appeared widely, from The Georgia Review to Poetry, and been published in three collections, most recently Leopard Lady: A Life in Verse. Her fourth novel, To the Bones, has been acclaimed as “a parable of capitalism and environmental degradation,” and another novel, Backwater, will be released in 2022. A journalism graduate of West Virginia University, she was a newspaper reporter and editor before completing her MFA at Queens University of Charlotte, and is concluding her teaching career as a professor of writing at North Carolina A&T State University. http://www.valnieman.com