In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Spitshine, and: Semen
  • Emily Van Kley (bio)


Ask about children.I’ll waver. There is the tyranny

of bedtime to consider.Sloshed milk & split chins.

Plastic tortoise figurinesthat bruise the arches. Children

ask for buttered noodles& cartoon marathons; they want

to be naked all the time.My grandmother who visits does not

hold with nudity. She believesone beer puts you on the road

to disaster. Take her ownaunt, who at 50 dyed

her hair black & made her eyesup until they shone

bright as bowling balls, drankso much when she played cards [End Page 135]

she’d shimmy out of her corset& flourish it around the table,

with its underarm sweat stains& whalebone still holding

the swell of her shape.Mornings, my teenaged

grandmother clearedcracked beer bottles &

overburdened ashtrays.To this day, she says

the smell puts her off.


It is a sober winterwith the streets bare in December,

the iced toboggan run that keepsmelting down to fall’s anemic bluegrass,

the neighbor kids playingin ever-browning piles of maple leaves.

Rakish, you walk sideways on the busted-upsidewalk, like something blown.

When you wear the boiled woolhat with the flipped brim, I think

about having children. Because, my dear,you’d make a great grandfather: [End Page 136]

your breasts pressed behindtwo-toned suitcoats, your love of lawns,

how you know your way around a bottle,& amp; never need a thing in return.


Silky, unambitious,slow to trace the moatof the ball jar’s base.Built from dispassionateblueprint, ribbonedlines of codeemulse then expelby means of pleasure’sscissor-kick. Kinetics,sentiment. The body’s chore

enraptured. But soon to fallfully liquid, like poorlywhipped egg white.To lose its regalbearing, fade to wan,vestigial, as if flungagainst wall or trouserleg, left to leaven.That smell in the alleybehind the house:suddenly unmistakable.Not some duff-dwellingvegetable, but musk & amp; sour [End Page 137] of what’s been shutin the body’s fevered damp.

Among many advantagesof women: no needfor rituals of catchment,disposal, quick cleanupin cases of faulty timing.Such undue mess, suchexcess catalyst. So

why this tendernessfor a slim spill clingingthe curve of a tipped jar?Alone, a little humiliated.Expected to spur a newgalaxy of skin & amp; bone.We’re wordless.

The syringe stretchesits dignified spine, drawscloser to its chosenunintended. Gift, we think.Carry on, not withoutastonishment. [End Page 138]

Emily Van Kley

Emily Van Kley ’s poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Best New Poets 2013, and has been awarded the Iowa Review Award, the Florida Review Editors’ Award, and, most recently, the Loraine Williams Award from the Georgia Review. She lives in Olympia, WA, with her partner.



Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 135-138
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.