a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Angelica Whitehorne


I Leaned on the Wall and The Wall Leaned Away.

Molding raspberries are the only thing left in the fridge. Boxes that smell of mildew, full of our trinkets from the dead, wait to be carried out like children over the flooding waters of our leaving. The house does not want to cover you or cover for you, you have no loyal alibi in this neighborhood, no scapegoat for the mind you murdered, the home you let ruin, keep moving / don’t drown. We downsize again and again until we are only a family on a finger’s tip, only beggars in a league of beggars, only confused letters sent but undelivered. I try to make you let anything go but you have a strong grip, so we get more boxes. We have a knack for standing in the same place good or bad, until the world kicks us out on our asses. I have become your smaller race car on an infinity track, following you as we circle again and again. I keep saying I’m taking the next exit and you keep asking for one more mile, one more nauseous ride for old times sake, or for the months you carried me, and all of sudden a mile is a quarter of a lifetime and every box I pack has your name written across it.

Rapid Rehouse

To rehouse means the un-housing has already been done. House stripped from extremities like damp and bloody bandages. And now, we sit in the chairs opposite to the desk, exposed.

The worker in the rapid rehousing office informs us, typing perfunctory, fake fingernail missing from her third finger, that she and her two dachshunds were also rehoused, rapidly.

“My dachshunds are well-behaved, bundled babies, I feed them only chicken meat and peeled carrots, but still they’re all pudge— it’s something in the breed.” She explains how she used to carry them both up and down the stairs five times a day so they could shit and muck in her front yard.

“Soon enough though,” she says, “they had no yard, because my apartment was sold under my shoes to a single family buyer, and no apartments around here accept two dogs.”

“But look,” she continues, “I had two dogs, not one. And both were fat, but not so fat so as to consume the other and merge into one dog!”

“AND besides,” she adds, slowing down on her typing to make her point, “Nobody’d ask the local welfare wench to whack one of her children for a roof over her head, so why should I?”

We stare, and she continues to type into our intake form. Focusing on her task, she asks us where we were living now. We say, “The past.”

She tries to rephrase her question, “Where are you staying now?”  We say, “We are staying low.”

She wants us to say that we have nowhere to live, but we won’t say it. “Technically,” I think, “we have our bodies to live in,” but I don’t say this out loud, we all know that they are not enough, that we need heat outside our veins, and a roof for rain, and pillows, we need pillows. We are silent until she nods to herself and then hits the space bar four times to signify our lack.

Our quiet does not quell her and in between her other questions, she informs us blankly that, “They may never call you. It’s a long shot, everyone is looking for a rental these days and it is never a poor man’s market, as I’m sure you know— but hey, my fat babies and I, we lucked out. It did get hard, bench-in-an-April-downpour hard, floor-of-a-second-cousin’s hard, DSS-supplied-roach-infested-room hard. But now I’ve got a small place on the East Side, it’s not the Hilton, but it’s on the first floor and even has a washer hook-up.”

“And,” she assures, “I’ve got a good feeling for the both of you, a good feeling, a two-bedroom-and-windows-that-keep-the-flies-out kind of feeling,” she nods agreeing with herself, her fingernails cackling loud onto the keys, except for the one with its tip bitten down to nub, that one lands on each letter with no sound at all.


How the Storm Moves

The storm’s wind gives the trash personality.
 
Cardboard and plastic
advance
towards me
with purpose,
push and heave and lug themselves
along the road like the busy people
on their endless errands.
 
I drag on the neighbor’s second hand and the car exhaust, watch the
clouds roll in, finally
 
there will be anger tonight something to remember.
 
 
The people paint signs and hang them in their window
so you know what kind of home they keep.
 
What kind of sign would we hang if we could keep a home?
 
I scratch my name
into the dirt, now I have a place
to stay until the
next rain, at least.
 
 
We have fantasies of planting ourselves in a garden
in the backyard
 
and watching ourselves sprout up.
 
 
I hope to become something hardy, and you want to be an herb,
some big meal’s accent piece,
someone’s burst of flavor.
 
We all have our stupider dreams.
 
For now, or for always,
we are kept down.
 
In truth, everyone eats what they can find, takes what they are given,
it is all luck and sometimes
if you are lucky, shiny ribbons
get left at your feet
 
and someone tells you that you are worth something.
 
We know    we deserve nothing have been told
by buildings who spit
us out, rancid fruit,
spilling like juice all over
our backpacked homes.
 
Even years later it is so evident that we will never have hands made to fill.
 
We are made of excess metal,
carry away containers,
granola bar wrappers,
Styrofoam nuggets that stuff your boxes
and the empty boxes too.
 
Detached chair legs,
chipping recycling bins,
trash blown out of cans of all kinds:
pads and rotten scraps
and plastic bags
and the feces of dogs
and cats.
 
Tonight, the storm has let us loose.
furious,
howling,
pattering  against ourselves
 amid our escape,
 futile scraplings,
 things of no use,
 things with no place,
 given life again—
 
 
Tonight, you can watch the wind blow us down the road.
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Angelica Whitehorne is a New York author who writes poems, pieces of fiction, and stanza-formatted rants about the world we’re living in. She’s not creative enough to write about some other world, so this one is all she’s got. She has published or forthcoming work in Westwind Poetry, Mantis, The Laurel Review, The Cardiff Review, North Dakota Quarterly, and Hooligan Magazine among others.


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