The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Foxlogic, Fireweed by Jennifer K. Sweeney


For the brown widow who laid her eggs
under my son’s bicycle seat

You are searching the domed
curves of shelter, a haunt
of darkness to forge

a pair of eggs larger
than your body.
Anchor and parachute,

wisp and captor,
you cast your nets
cast and cast all directions

then time unspools before you.
Under lip of flowerpot
a lawnchair’s crook

against the weighted clanger
of the chime,
I’ve never spotted your starry

orbs without your fiddleback
your hollow mouthparts
perched in the filigree.

How I’ve dug the stick in
crushed the papery shells into dirt
then pulled you through the wreck.

My apology is thin. I don’t know
where to let you live.
He practiced in the driveway.

It only took a few yards
before he found the midpoint,
that precarious balance of belief

in the center of everything.
One foot pushes off
and the other pumps back,

divine symmetry.
I took him out to the track
where once he circled, he lit,

purposeful. Windmaker,
looping the afternoon to dusk,
how could the sky not

have been an anthem?
He wheeled;
you held. The eggs

spackled in their basket
feeling what of this world.
Laying the bike on its side

we saw your sticky lair,
he had reached under
earlier as he propped himself on.

Had we not dismantled
you would have continued
through the mornings,

the late afternoons,
as he learned how to take a hill
a fall, you would have stayed

until the breaking open
your divine
teal-metal entrance.

A wind here can take
down a litter of palm branches,
overturn the bottle-

heavy garbage cans
but you, feathery mass
of intricate making

remain on such silks
beneath the highway-bound car
the victor of a boy’s

lengthening body
coming into its power.
We head indoors and I am sure

you are more with us
than we see
nestled in the stashed corners

of our lives, mending.
Under the arch
of a thirty-year roof

built by whose hands,
we survive beyond
our knowing

all the wild and immersive
gestures of the earth
too large for us to perceive.


This selection comes from Foxlogic, Fireweed, available from The Backwaters Press. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Kimberly Ann Priest.

Jennifer K. Sweeney is the author of three other poetry collections, including Little Spells, How to Live on Bread and Music, and Salt Memory. The recipient of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and a Pushcart Prize, she teaches at the University of Redlands in California. Twitter: @jksweeneypoet

Kimberly Ann Priest is the author of Slaughter the One Bird (Sundress 2021), Parrot Flower (Glass 2021), Still Life (PANK 2020), and White Goat Black Sheep (Finishing Line Press 2018). Winner of the New American Press 2019 Heartland Poetry Prize, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as North Dakota Quarterly, Salamander, Slipstream, The Berkeley Poetry Review, Borderland and many others. She is an associate poetry editor for the Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry and Embody reader for The Maine Review. Find her work at kimberlyannpriest.com.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Foxlogic, Fireweed by Jennifer K. Sweeney


Foxlogic, Fireweed

When I say it breathed inside the house 

I mean I felt the air swell around me. 

I was upstairs; it was behind me. 

I was downstairs; it was roiling across

the room. From all angles, I was turned. 

When I say it breathed

I mean also that it shrieked, the sound 

so dislocating and new, it was heat 

and certainty like steam shearing up 

out of the earth, like lightning 

branding snow. 

My feet were strange to me. 

My hands careless and flimsy. 

It was behind me, at my neck 

as if I could reach out and tremble 

its vapors. I was circling, 

my arms lifted when I saw 

the tribe of foxes 

press at the back door 

searing their cries upward into the house. 

We locked in awe, wild eyes 

until the darkness stole us 

back to our separate worlds.

This selection comes from Foxlogic, Fireweed, available from The Backwaters Press. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Kimberly Ann Priest.

Jennifer K. Sweeney is the author of three other poetry collections, including Little Spells, How to Live on Bread and Music, and Salt Memory. The recipient of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and a Pushcart Prize, she teaches at the University of Redlands in California. Twitter: @jksweeneypoet

Kimberly Ann Priest is the author of Slaughter the One Bird (Sundress 2021), Parrot Flower (Glass 2021), Still Life (PANK 2020), and White Goat Black Sheep (Finishing Line Press 2018). Winner of the New American Press 2019 Heartland Poetry Prize, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as North Dakota Quarterly, Salamander, Slipstream, The Berkeley Poetry Review, Borderland and many others. She is an associate poetry editor for the Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry and Embody reader for The Maine Review. Find her work at kimberlyannpriest.com.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Foxlogic, Fireweed by Jennifer K. Sweeney


I am driving a whale heart

In the dome of its body the blue 

whale has a heart large 

as a Honda Civic, its soft engine 

pumping throngs of blood 

in the equator deep. Whaleblood. Whaleheart.

These words open a little salt-rusted 

door in me. I want sometimes 

to sit by the wooden boy’s fire 

in the cave-belly and fold into a song 

and its forgetting. Like crawling 

into baritone sleep after the body 

exhausted from use. After 

the body I never knew 

was a mothering kind of creature. 

I have wanted to be inside the whale’s 

dream, the way the sugar ant wants 

to crawl inside my own heart and feast. 

I left home in a whale heart 

drove it through blizzards, 

off the side of the road, straight 

across the country trading coasts 

for no good reason than to change 

my life as much as I could. 

Largest heart, Deepest diver, 

your blood its own ten-ton sea,

traveling hundreds of miles a day 

in the ship of your body 

sounding your single horn 

to preserve your solitude. 

Chugging toward black rock, black hills 

and the carved-out drop of badlands, 

my offkey songs another dry slap 

against the windshield. 

Hydranths in the cloudhead, 

which current to follow in the rising dark? 

Windmills became mineral plains, 

whales floating above the salt flats. 

I ran to them but they disappeared 

in my arms. Driving my fish-heart 

into the yellow headlands’ tinderbox 

of dead grasses, the baited questions 

were already hooking my future. 

In the corner of a borrowed room, 

I dealt a haphazard astrology: 

If Perseids dripped from the eucalyptus 

If a film about tide pools was projected onto

the fog If the basin proved to be fertile 

then I’d stay in San Francisco. No memory 

anywhere in my wake. 

I think now it was not where I landed 

but the story of the leaving.

Before I knew how to be inside my life, 

rootstock in the daily, 

what I loved most was careening 

toward the idea of it, 

never the stark arrival, 

fumbling with knifed keys 

in the shadows, stepping 

over the gray pool 

of mail with its terrible small weight, 

but one foot in the swirl, 

those brief seconds of lift 

before the tide pulled me in. 

When you washed ashore, Largest

it took four men to pull the heart 

from your body, they wanted to see it 

hauled from the depths. 

It would take 640 male hearts to make yours. 

It would take the starry plough 

culled from the mountain 

to know anything about you at all. 

And then it’s ten years, twenty, 

and my body it’s been the good sea, 

though suddenly, never alone again 

so that when waiting 

in a doctor’s annual office 

I can be seized by the floodwaters— 

the canned triumph of a pop song, 

a plastic seashell in a decaying aquarium— 

the wire so easily tripped. 

When everyone is briefly accounted for

I plunge into epiphany, 

slipping out to fetch the godly bills, 

the dollar grocery papers, waxy catalogs 

that locate me across every migration 

and something in the way the domed sky 

shivers with its palpable fade 

or I am exhausted 

to the point of sheer openness, 

it returns me to the gasp 

of emerging from that car’s 

salt-rusted door at Land’s End 

shedding grain by grain 

in the surf. Cold bare feet 

on the cul-de-sac asphalt 

I crawl into my whale heart, 

pocked and peeling now, 

that place where love 

was sourced in loneliness, 

for a single breath, medicinal sip 

of beyond, licking salt 

from my fingers 

in my own private hum 

before returning 

to the buoyant voices 

the small hands reaching up 

toward their idea of mother. 

This selection comes from Foxlogic, Fireweed, available from The Backwaters Press. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Kimberly Ann Priest.

Jennifer K. Sweeney is the author of three other poetry collections, including Little Spells, How to Live on Bread and Music, and Salt Memory. The recipient of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and a Pushcart Prize, she teaches at the University of Redlands in California. Twitter: @jksweeneypoet

Kimberly Ann Priest is the author of Slaughter the One Bird (Sundress 2021), Parrot Flower (Glass 2021), Still Life (PANK 2020), and White Goat Black Sheep (Finishing Line Press 2018). Winner of the New American Press 2019 Heartland Poetry Prize, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as North Dakota Quarterly, Salamander, Slipstream, The Berkeley Poetry Review, Borderland and many others. She is an associate poetry editor for the Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry and Embody reader for The Maine Review. Find her work at kimberlyannpriest.com.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Foxlogic, Fireweed by Jennifer K. Sweeney


Wildest

The hour of snacks and homework 

and we’re enlarging the world with adverbs

of scale. See how easily smooth becomes

smoother, 

how we can silk it farther to the sheen that

is most itself. You are taller, stronger, a

little farther from my center, but not

farthest 

(may we stop here in the horizon note of

farther) and you want to know how accretion

applies to wild. One field left longer, one

never entered 

by anything that sought to change it. 

Say wild and the honeysuckle curls round

the cedar and the cedar’s silence mats a

soft floor in winter whose most faithful

withholding buckles 

the cloudhead. Say wilder and it’s less 

bewildering, more why, 

the cloud funneling now, the animals

hurried into the barn, and we’re left 

staring at the floodwaters salting our

questions. Wilder rakes its impulsive

hand over us 

and we ride off the road in the night. 

And wildest, what sprung cosmos is that? 

I hope we never see it enough to know 

as here in this measured plot we keep

turning the hose on the fire ants and

they dutifully 

froth up. Somewhere lives expanses 

never perceived, deepest praise 

all the lost coasts, outbacks, untrodden 

tundras of this world, its earths too wild 

to survive us. My boy wants to know 

how wild it gets. As long as there is land 

that has never breathed in 

our borrowed must of oxygen, 

then the mandrakes quiver in their sacs; 

as you curl into sleep, the dryad 

is out there pressing her most unburdened head 

against evening’s northest altar. 

This selection comes from Foxlogic, Fireweed, available from The Backwaters Press. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Kimberly Ann Priest.

Jennifer K. Sweeney is the author of three other poetry collections, including Little Spells, How to Live on Bread and Music, and Salt Memory. The recipient of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and a Pushcart Prize, she teaches at the University of Redlands in California. Twitter: @jksweeneypoet

Kimberly Ann Priest is the author of Slaughter the One Bird (Sundress 2021), Parrot Flower (Glass 2021), Still Life (PANK 2020), and White Goat Black Sheep (Finishing Line Press 2018). Winner of the New American Press 2019 Heartland Poetry Prize, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as North Dakota Quarterly, Salamander, Slipstream, The Berkeley Poetry Review, Borderland and many others. She is an associate poetry editor for the Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry and Embody reader for The Maine Review. Find her work at kimberlyannpriest.com.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Foxlogic, Fireweed by Jennifer K. Sweeney


Bat Milk

They do, they do— 

inside the living mountain 

where night is a constant— 

curl up like a god’s 

shuttered eye 

and wait as I waited 

body of my body 

we sing the same 

blood-warm song. 

Casements wrapped in ink 

they are to themselves 

the center of the earth 

by which all things 

distinguish 

though still they may ask 

as I have asked 

staring across 

the battered plain 

what monster what 

monster am I? 

Midwife of shadow 

the first milk breath 

hums in the mineral sky.

This selection comes from Foxlogic, Fireweed, available from The Backwaters Press. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Kimberly Ann Priest.

Jennifer K. Sweeney is the author of three other poetry collections, including Little Spells, How to Live on Bread and Music, and Salt Memory. The recipient of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and a Pushcart Prize, she teaches at the University of Redlands in California. Twitter: @jksweeneypoet

Kimberly Ann Priest is the author of Slaughter the One Bird (Sundress 2021), Parrot Flower (Glass 2021), Still Life (PANK 2020), and White Goat Black Sheep (Finishing Line Press 2018). Winner of the New American Press 2019 Heartland Poetry Prize, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as North Dakota Quarterly, Salamander, Slipstream, The Berkeley Poetry Review, Borderland and many others. She is an associate poetry editor for the Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry and Embody reader for The Maine Review. Find her work at kimberlyannpriest.com.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Constellation of Freckles by Keri Withington


Communion

Lose yourself in kindness.


Trust the soft oval of clasped hands
blurred circles of knees on stone
the simple shapes of star, cross, steeple


Streaming sunlight, glowing window panes,
aisle seats battered by drink carts


Skin gilded in galactic rays, recycled air.


Checkerboard farms, variable vector mountains
nations discrete, invisible


Light candles.
Hope to Belief to Faith to


The simple equation
of self plus love
patience


From above, everything is geometry.

This selection comes from Constellation of Freckles, available from Dancing Girl Press. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Shannon Wolf.

Keri Withington is an Appalachian based poet and educator. Her work has previously appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.Her first chapbook is Constellation of Freckles from Dancing Girl Press. Her second chapbook, Beckoning From the Waves, is forthcoming from Plan B Press. As well as writing, Withington is an assistant professor of English at Pellissippi State Community College. Her writing explores themes of feminism, family, and nature.

Shannon Wolf is a British writer and teacher, living in Louisiana. She is currently a joint MA-MFA candidate in Poetry at McNeese State University. She is the Non-Fiction Editor of The McNeese Review, and Social Media Intern for Sundress Publications. She also holds an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. Her poetry, short fiction, and non-fiction (which can also be found under the name Shannon Bushby) have appeared in The Forge and Great Weather for Media, among others. You can find her on social media @helloshanwolf.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Constellation of Freckles by Keri Withington


Secret Garden

We found you
strangely scented
of coconuts and fertilizer
in an old Wellington.


Miriam planted you
there secretly,
fed you sunscreen
and crayon wrappers.


You grew in the dark rubber,
white-green shoots
searching for sunlight
bulb soft and fat.

This selection comes from Constellation of Freckles, available from Dancing Girl Press. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Shannon Wolf.

Keri Withington is an Appalachian based poet and educator. Her work has previously appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.Her first chapbook is Constellation of Freckles from Dancing Girl Press. Her second chapbook, Beckoning From the Waves, is forthcoming from Plan B Press. As well as writing, Withington is an assistant professor of English at Pellissippi State Community College. Her writing explores themes of feminism, family, and nature.

Shannon Wolf is a British writer and teacher, living in Louisiana. She is currently a joint MA-MFA candidate in Poetry at McNeese State University. She is the Non-Fiction Editor of The McNeese Review, and Social Media Intern for Sundress Publications. She also holds an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. Her poetry, short fiction, and non-fiction (which can also be found under the name Shannon Bushby) have appeared in The Forge and Great Weather for Media, among others. You can find her on social media @helloshanwolf.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Constellation of Freckles by Keri Withington


You Are My Calendar

The smell of Sundays when you shave
Bone-handled brush sweeping over cheekbones, chin
Face smooth under my lips, fingers
I could recognize you by your skin.


Days pass, and your stubble sands my face as we kiss
Accentuate your movements, explore me
Mark days by growth, delicious rough caress
Moving to Friday’s softness again.


By Saturday the scent of wood-shavings
and sweets is submerged in your skin
Surrounds me, stains the pillows and sheets.
I breathe you in.


I mark my days by you.

This selection comes from Constellation of Freckles, available from Dancing Girl Press. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Shannon Wolf.

Keri Withington is an Appalachian based poet and educator. Her work has previously appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.Her first chapbook is Constellation of Freckles from Dancing Girl Press. Her second chapbook, Beckoning From the Waves, is forthcoming from Plan B Press. As well as writing, Withington is an assistant professor of English at Pellissippi State Community College. Her writing explores themes of feminism, family, and nature.

Shannon Wolf is a British writer and teacher, living in Louisiana. She is currently a joint MA-MFA candidate in Poetry at McNeese State University. She is the Non-Fiction Editor of The McNeese Review, and Social Media Intern for Sundress Publications. She also holds an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. Her poetry, short fiction, and non-fiction (which can also be found under the name Shannon Bushby) have appeared in The Forge and Great Weather for Media, among others. You can find her on social media @helloshanwolf.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Constellation of Freckles by Keri Withington


Secret City

House, kids, dogs: I’m settled now. Situated
though I’ve moved so many times I can’t remember addresses,
phone numbers, roommate names. Cosmic rays bathed my airplanes;
starlight saturated my dented water bottle.


My grandmother kept her house in Atlanta ‘til she was ninety.
She attributed her health to an apply a day, her fear of doctors,
the Diet Coke and frosting tub she kept in her walker’s basket. She stayed
active bird-watching, gossiping, eating Varsity hot dogs.


School district, fenced yard, hardwood floors: we bought
our house for the family friendly area, affordable price tag, the right
number of bedrooms. The radioactive materials in our town are among the
most concentrated in the world. The labs world-known.


We swim in our own radioactive waste.
The lakes have No Fishing signs; the fish have three eyes
or none at all. The algae spreads too quickly, chokes wildlife and boat
motors. Plants trap spilt mercury, grow toxic.


Swing-sets, greenways, imported sand: we take
Our kids to the lake, enjoy the city’s parks. My kitchen still
has a microwave, we still screw in fluorescent
light bulb. But we avoid GMOs, eat organic.


The same birds my grandmother fed every morning
migrate up the Appalachians, flock at the lakeshore, peck seeds
from my porch. My kids find their abandoned nests, unhatched eggs, collect
them with crystal shale, misshapen acorns.

This selection comes from Constellation of Freckles, available from Dancing Girl Press. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Shannon Wolf.

Keri Withington is an Appalachian based poet and educator. Her work has previously appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.Her first chapbook is Constellation of Freckles from Dancing Girl Press. Her second chapbook, Beckoning From the Waves, is forthcoming from Plan B Press. As well as writing, Withington is an assistant professor of English at Pellissippi State Community College. Her writing explores themes of feminism, family, and nature.

Shannon Wolf is a British writer and teacher, living in Louisiana. She is currently a joint MA-MFA candidate in Poetry at McNeese State University. She is the Non-Fiction Editor of The McNeese Review, and Social Media Intern for Sundress Publications. She also holds an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. Her poetry, short fiction, and non-fiction (which can also be found under the name Shannon Bushby) have appeared in The Forge and Great Weather for Media, among others. You can find her on social media @helloshanwolf.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Constellation of Freckles by Keri Withington


Grace

Pull up a pew. If a pew won’t
do, if the back cramps, pull
up anything.


Leave Calvin out of it.


Or don’t. We wander, finger
Dogwood buds, petals pink
or white, curled tight as
fists.


I count by twos
blades of grass between
bare toes,
acorns.


You count crosses in tree
bark, portraits in
cumulus,
signs.


Plasma burns either way.
27 million degrees over every
church door, pagoda, temple.


Star
-light travels just as far
to monophyletic Redwoods,
cyanobacteria blooms,
synchronized fireflies.


I gather constellations of
freckles, swallow songs,
alpine strawberries.


We are alive here.

This selection comes from Constellation of Freckles, available from Dancing Girl Press. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Shannon Wolf.

Keri Withington is an Appalachian based poet and educator. Her work has previously appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.Her first chapbook is Constellation of Freckles from Dancing Girl Press. Her second chapbook, Beckoning From the Waves, is forthcoming from Plan B Press. As well as writing, Withington is an assistant professor of English at Pellissippi State Community College. Her writing explores themes of feminism, family, and nature.

Shannon Wolf is a British writer and teacher, living in Louisiana. She is currently a joint MA-MFA candidate in Poetry at McNeese State University. She is the Non-Fiction Editor of The McNeese Review, and Social Media Intern for Sundress Publications. She also holds an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. Her poetry, short fiction, and non-fiction (which can also be found under the name Shannon Bushby) have appeared in The Forge and Great Weather for Media, among others. You can find her on social media @helloshanwolf.