The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


A. Loudermilk

Dressed Wrong for Pinebrook Dog Walk & Trails


Mud. Therefore: Abandon hike
staged by performance artists

reimagining wilderness. Your friend
will smirk to find you back at the park,

shoes wiped clean and dusk wide open.
Darkness latches tree to picnic table

where you wait,
your eye craving

to hang a garden from its roots, tallgrass
faded at the tips. A bird dreaming bees

during peak mosquito hours
is a lesser blue, is an unmanned drone

exhaling sweet-nothing trigger warnings
in a nervous breakdown of a nest.

You are here,

taunting the overlook
as two deer elude and elude.

A rusty sculpture’s bear claw
beckons. A silver button

flushes the pavilion toilet.
On go the parking lot lights.



A. Loudermilk

Northern Ohio: Poet as Widow

(Braiding Fine Hair to Hang an Anvil On)



Home after a walk as if down from a tree,
lightheaded. She opens curtains, checks her blood
in hectoring light, and five minutes take an hour.
A boiled egg divides for her on a paper napkin
while each window holds itself together.

She could never be alone enough yet now
how banal, her husband’s tense shifted: his crutches
were his crutches, stood him up, walked him.
He was a proud father to good kids. She loved
him behind his book; he loved her behind hers.

An hour takes five minutes and she wakes,
the bus swaying though she’s not riding a bus,
not today—cat in her lap. Fingertip pricked
to be pricked again. There is no white noise,
just heartbeat, busy signal, punctuation.




A. LOUDERMILK's poems can be found in Cream City Review, Fogged Clarity, Gargoyle, Salamander, Smartish Pace,Tin House, and his own collection Strange Valentine. He’s taught creative writing at Hampshire College in Amherst and Maryland Institute College of Arts in Baltimore. His poem “Northern Ohio: Poet as Widow” stems from his recent Writer’s Chronicle essay on poet Alberta Turner.



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