The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Susan Hankla

Pray for Her in the Wetlands of your Eyes


      Dollar Tree’s cans of Strawberry. Not quite a brand. Amused,
you buy. Snakes could pop out.
      Then imagine that in the dark syrup, you find a bracelet,
with a charm suspended in pink murk that says Protect Me.
      Now see the pinewood shelf, where so many strawberry cans
reside in the dry earth cellar in a house in a wooded area… Then hear engines of flight.

      Girl could run better if she had on shoes.

      Inside an admiring eye, a coveting mind: that butterfly net, that syringe, that magnet,

that hook, that flail…

      Nothing out there but mountains and woods, and it’s done nothing but rain
this summer, so the brush is thick…

      Against aging, even your aging, and mine, the weatherboard shack in the inchoate
forest. First sighting: a gas station/general store…its trapdoor toilet’s
looped towel—infinity’s scarf.
      In hospital incinerator in the flame’s heart, all the aspirations of high school girls.
In Peter Rabbit’s cottage, in the hothouse with air ferns, and flowerpots spilling
sedum: a hook baited with jelly bread.

      Police have asked archers to keep their eyes open.

      in postings: Human waste on 2 legs. Take that clown out back/front (it don’t matter) and shoot.

Innocent while guilty—such is life.
Looks exactly like you’d expect a white trash rapist-murderer to look—

      journal entry: When I look at the dreams God shows me, I see that people often fail, except when

they take extreme risks.

      In coal scuttle alley, where blocks of ice you carry on spikes to ice the spiked
drink. In the hospital incinerator flames’ heart—all the aspirations of high school girls

-for Alexis Tiara Murphy, who disappeared in August of 2013, Lovingston, VA.




SUSAN HANKLA lives in Richmond, VA and is a Hollins University graduate, with an MFA from Brown. Burning Deck Press published her chapbook. She appears in Gargoyle, Beloit Fiction Journal, Michigan Quarterly Review, Blue Mesa, Artemis, Hollins Critic, Open Places, Southern Poetry Review, Poetry Northwest and New Virginia Review. Recipient of a Virginia Commission grant for Fiction, fellowships to Virginia Center for Creative Arts and Frost Place; Clinch River, (Groundhog Poetry Press), is her debut.



Previous | Next