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we open on night. the shadow

of a shadow. along the strip of cement,

breasted by sand, the oceanic hairline

of an oil barge. we follow the camera

back to the bench, where lovers

carve darkness with a joint. blood

-lit, we open on our mouths.

the camera pulls back. we open

on the moon, its fullness not enough

so i punch your feathered chest.

we open on smoke. no, we open

on a body in the silhouette of smoke.

we open on a fist, passing through.

maybe, from a holy angle, it forms

a fish head or heart. or no,

we open on a fist in the myth

of passing through.

erin stoodley

synopsis for grief

     after sam sax

Youth, Somewhat

In autumn, shadows darken fur

and shake the leaves, falling.


Even your cigarette

bruises to its point.


You say the girl cannot understand

a thing about suffering.


I am the girl, asleep, curled

feral beneath your bar stool.


Vietnam and some beer float by.

Your concept of life is full


of napalm-wet pink loti,

all the unbloomed children


who only opened for the swollen

mouth of morning.


Here, the soft afternoon

chain-smokes the West Side.


When she awakes,

the girl is not too good, but


mistakes the sawdust at your soles

for sand dunes.




Erin Stoodley is an undergraduate student at Stanford University. She has been recognized by such organizations as the Anthony Quinn Foundation, the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, and the National YoungArts Foundation. Her poetry is published or is forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, Belleville Park Pages, and Euphony Journal, among others.

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