The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Roy White

Tower Diary


The hair is everywhere. Tonight I tripped
bringing her dinner; the little dog seized a cutlet
in midair, and I had to clean
the spaetzle off with shampoo and a bucket
of water. The dog ended up with hairballs.

I find her running the Largo Argentina
Cat Sanctuary; my own urgent projects
(this being my dream) turn into nothing but
an endless search for the bathroom.

She sat on the bed for hours, firing the ball
off the wall from her lacrosse stick, catching it
in the basket: pwok tik, pwok tik, pwok tik.

I stand in a police station wearing
a windbreaker but no pants, calling her name.
When I see her at last, she says, “The dog
knows where Ambrose Bierce is buried.”

Today the boyfriend came. They blew each other
kisses and he talked about his mom’s
stint in rehab and his arschloch of a boss.
He had to shout, of course, and she replied
by holding up the cards she’s made: “Mm-hmm,”
“No way!” and “That’ll teach them a lesson
they won’t soon forget!”

The boyfriend has this plan to rescue her
by climbing up her hair. She humors him,
but we both know I’d just end up with two
inmates instead of one. She’s got her own
plans, naturally.

We’re unmoored, the masts and rigging suddenly
gone. The corpse is still here, wrapped up
like a bundle of sticks on the bare deck.

They grow up so fast. We braided the hair
into a rope; she cut it off and tied it
onto a sconce, but when she threw one leg
over the sill, I figured she’d made her point.
I opened the front door and she strode away
with the dog peeking out of her fuchsia pleather backpack,
stick in her right hand, left thumb in the air.



Roy White

Half Life


At night the jars of pitchblende lit the lab
in a mesmeric blue glow;
the couple would gaze and gaze at them
and not think about cancer.

When the girl’s tumor came back, a dark egg
brooding in her medulla,
her grandmother had to go to Memphis
to clean out the apartment.

At the airport, she watched the luggage
in its relentless stately orbit
around an unseen sun.
Someone had taped a broken suitcase handle
with a rolled-up Morbidity and Mortality
Weekly Report.

The rain that fell on the river
was the river. Some things in the freezer
could not be named.
This would all go down, she knew,
on her permanent record.

A black hole will eat its own shadow, wrapping itself
in a scarf of bent light.
As you fall toward the Schwarzschild radius,
long after the tides have torn your head
from your body, as strong attractions often do,
you will shine, shine bright as an X-ray sparkler.




ROY WHITE is a blind person who lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota with a lovely woman and a handsome dog. His poems and essays have appeared in BOAAT Journal, Tinderbox, Lascaux Review and elsewhere, and he blogs at



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