The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Sarah Pape

Orphans Come to Witness Our Wedding


Vow to revise theories of filth
through each others’ thin fingers,

as the uninvited guests shake
the equation from baby’s toes.

Nineteen and twenty, not enough
to make a black knot at the neck,

or proper underwear to hold guts
apart from a vapor white chiffon.

Two girls arrive barefoot to watch
the practice walk toward water,

under wisteria, over chestnut spines.
They come back the next day clean,

hold out cellophane roses, twisted
and pinked bundles in their hands.



Sarah Pape

How to Be a Beaver


Wait till you’re hungry enough
to eat a map. Name yourself
Genius. Water, your lover-

like home, will elude
you, keep you awake,
jaws full of forest

and architecture. Your teeth,
sunset, your tail, a gavel.
Nickname yourself Failure.




SARAH PAPE teaches English and works as the Managing Editor of Watershed Review at Chico State. Her poetry and prose has recently been published in: Passages North, Ecotone, Crab Orchard Review, Bluestem, The Pinch, Smartish Pace, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and others. Her chapbook, Ruination Atlas, was published this year (dancing girl press). She curates community literary programming and is a member of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. Check out her website for more:



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