Skip to main content

Emily Barton Altman

By September 26th, 2020No Comments


It is evening when I start to wander.
Easily I dismantle and then raze—
your prescribed pedagogy no longer
rivets my gaze. A body, I pass days
sanctioned by the city between your legs.
Blessed are your carcinogens burning through
the poor membranes, thin and drained to their dregs,
in spirit you trace silver remains, too,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. This,
your kingdom—now full of doppelgangers
who send their smoky prayers through mirrors, twist
their rituals with string and wire hangers,
splendid faces without eyes. Lead us not
into—but let’s look, let’s bleed, or else rot.



Held & shed, our husked skin             buoyed
by past angles, restless old shapes.
Pronouns long since disposed             deftly
engaged by abstracted winds.                        Burn
them then, wholly.                   An exhausted language
nevertheless absorbs our anxious hurt.
Body it.           Collapse ache
and rune and sidle toward breath.        Whoso learns
an orb of alphabet beneath tiny
clocks that do not work—       are they resilient?
They reseal their hands and drop them,
urgency without time. Enter
the picture and peer
through the frame.        What has happened to the floor?






Photo by Sara Wainscott

Emily Barton Altman is a poet and editor. Recent publications include a chapbook, “Bathymetry” (Present Tense Pamphlets, 2016), and poems appearing in Ghost ProposalTL;DRParallax, and others. She is a recipient of a Poets & Writers Amy Award and received her MFA from New York University. She co-hosts and produces the poetry podcast Make (No) Bones with her partner, Toby Altman.