poem index

H. Antecessor

Joan Houlihan
All halted elegance, you make a paper wolf for me 
then blow into a bottle for the howl. We are so merry 
in the belly of July, knees pressed together, kissing

as we eat, while west, in Gran Dolina, the intact 
skeletons are spread with tools around a cold hearth. 
Trouble yourself: they are deformed 

by a hammering for marrow along the longer 
bones, and on the templar, blackened. 
When man is a study of cut mark and fracture,

woman should be wary. I am not. Cloud-tails float 
high, uncombed, as I, with found weed braided 
simply in my hair, lean to your mouth.

Copyright © Joan Houlihan. From Hand-Held Executions, Poems & Essays (Del Sol Press, 2003). Used with permission of the author.

Joan Houlihan

by this poet

RAG SMELL.  FIRE smell.  Bed blacked.  Bowl. 
The quiet come from living done.
Shadow built the walls, holed and cribbed with light.
Vine felt cracks and fingered in.
Were sky inside 
and what the wind-holes left, a wind.
Ay walk the last. What were floor 
heaves rock and root. 
Flame-eaten walls, rubs of wood

This is regret: or a ferret. Snuffling,
stunted, a snout full of snow.

As the end of day shuffles down
the repentant scurry and swarm—

an unstable contrition is born.
Bend down. Look into the lair.

Where newborn pieties spark and strike
I will make my peace as a low bulb