The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Gabrielle Becker



The hill once waved all colors of green,
now its scalp is shorn so close
new contours stand at sharp angles with the sky.

You never thought a scent
could be sterile. Isopropyl alcohol,
betadine scrub – it makes you numb,

still you ache with the touch
of a number fifteen blade.
There is a wound near the crest,

a dark and tender hematoma,
and it’s strange
that grass smells so sweet as it bleeds.

Hold your hand to the earth –
does it pulse
and slick with hurt? Whisper

to the wind, and the wild
will dance. You lost something once.
In a summer field, waist-high grass,

white bleeds into gray where they tell you
it shouldn’t. Rest your eyes,
just a moment.

You will never have to see the color
your sins have painted the sky.



Gabrielle Becker



Mi padre worked in México hanging horses to drain
and skinning them after, collecting
carmine stains in the cracks

of his hands and swatting horse
flies from his eyes and mouth. I drew
a comic once of two flies with lacework wings

sampling horse blood and man’s
sweat and discussing the relative sameness of both.
Tío Andrés works in Canada now,

catching pregnant mares’ urine and the stink of urea
on his skin. We call sometimes and his voice is unfamiliar,
rough, coated with cigarettes

and still I can smell horse piss through the phone.
Sedona Red Rock News returned my submission
sorry to say they had no place

for a caballo and Pliohippus skeleton
drunk on the Cimarron River.
Prehistoric flies hung

bone-white in the empty
place of eyes. Mi madre circled help
wanted ads and placed an application to Taco Bell

on the fridge between cactus magnets.
You make wonderful tacos,
she told me. Arizona Daily Sun requested the saguaro

and roadrunner not curse
in Spanish. Oil, onions, tortillas
cloud the air, a haze like hemoglobin

oxidizing under some August sun, but my hands
won’t give up the ink that has seeped
into their cracks.

Someday his hands will curve around knuckles
too swollen, I will set wild horses
gently on his lap, their buckskin and barred

legs lost in sagebrush. He will say nothing
but touch the sun I’ve caught on their backs.




GABRIELLE BECKER is a recent graduate of the University of Idaho. Her poetry and nonfiction have been honored with several Banks Awards through the university, and she was a recipient of the Hogue Family Centennial Literary Scholarship. She was a finalist in the 2016 Norman Mailer Writing Awards for 4-year college poetry writers. This is her first publication. 



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