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George Perrault



so we were talking about ukraine,

how the sky’s on fire in pakistan

and no one gives a shit, all the

hidden costs of human rule, and she

remembers her first assignment,

ICU recovery, two girls in a week

from the same denominational school

trying to sidestep their pregnancies,


and you know how it was back then,

the alleys they had to sneak along.

that first girl, the lucky one,

she died on the table, but the second

was twelve hours of surgery

after the drāno douche,

heavy sedation postponing

the pain and the horror,


and who wants to be there

when she wakes, who

wants to explain what’s lost:

you’ve melted the urinary tract,

your bowels, all the organs in

your pelvis, and then the bone,

so much bone.  these chemicals,

they have no conscience.


even after two tours in vietnam,

the things we do to each other,

she remembers that second girl,

the things we do to ourselves.

they took her down a hallway

to a room with solid locks.

termination, my friend whispers,

sometimes an elusive mercy.




somewhere between Denver and Heathrow

is a scrambling of half my helix while i wait


beading faith with breath held against that call:

her bones lost at sea, remembering fifth grade


an anthropologist asking the class what’s this:

a femur she said, then clavicle and pelvis,


female, no doubt, wider for the birthing,

and that skull punctuated by a bullet,


pretty small caliber, no exit wound,

everyone staring: what in the world…


a marvel how mind makes its way, young

or old, armored with audacity, singing


in trumpets and flutes the night songs

of owls, the matins of plows and yokes,


one world inherited, another to invent,

Dublin and Belfast, all those bullet holes


and the Kells, walls and ruins of walls,

things hurried along the current myths,


though love, my child, love is no fable

but the unseen river of air you ride,


a Rubik’s cube of earth churning coral

into mountain, rock burning to jewel,


a Celtic heart soughing in wonder:

your eyes so pretty when you cry




in a tongue where eye and i

do not distinguish themselves

we are beholden to the beheld


we must bend the mind to know

the waves on a blazed mountain

are the fingers of a single tree


that the Pillars of Creation flower

into stars as their absence slides

toward us a thousand years away


great Azophi once fixt the stars

but everything’s in motion

even love as once i saw you


this sunlit room of earth, each

heart’s filled with atoms drifting

and we find our way through dark

-from Lie down as you were born, selected by Assistant Editor, Karen Carr

George Perreault has worked as a visiting writer in Montana, New Mexico, and Utah, and he has received awards for poetry in Nevada and Washington. While his work is primarily lyrical, he also writes in the voices of ordinary men and women in contemporary America. He has published five books of poetry: Lie down As You Were Born (Kelsay Books, 2023), Bodark County (Grayson Books, 2016), All the Verbs for Knowing (Black Rock Press, 2006), Trying to Be Round (Singular Speech Press, 1994), and Curved Like an Eye (Ahsahta Press, 1988).

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