Fourteener for the Restless in the Middle of the Night

M. Bartley Seigel


After everything. Broken bottles, bottomed out stumbling
over fumbled buckles, mumbled passions calling collect.
Lying alone, me and my echo shrill in the dark hills—
my voices filtered through broken car speakers, a scratchy

seventy-eight at thirty-three and a third—woman don’t
you cry for me—through the wax in my cauliflower ears.
I’m all pillow talk, no fucks left, yet the years keep tripping
by like a primal scream. Why would that be? The Amble Bar,

the fallow fields, the dead black farms under stars and more stars,
all the soft bulletins falling to the floor like ashes.
The upholstery is catching fire. It smells bad, love,
like hair burning, like cabbage wisdom fogging up the glass.

Me in my thin skin, in the elastic black before dawn,
tracing a figure on the glass with my middle finger,
grinning like a basketful of possums in the torch light.
Here, the rage I hold high above my head, playing for keeps.

Here, the hedge witch begins unwinding the tightly rolled ball.
What a sad song spun from sugar to the clamor of tin,
Me? Singing it anyway—can’t help myself to stop—soft
somehow held together, a managed murder of crows.


Return to Spring Issue Volume 11.2




M. Bartley Seigel is the author of This Is What They Say (Typecast Publishing); founding editor and publisher emeritus of PANK Magazine; and Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Michigan Technological University. His poetry has regularly appeared in journals such as DIAGRAM, The Fourth River, Michigan Quarterly Review, Split Rock Review, Thrush, and Words Without Borders, among others, and was most recently anthologized in And Here: 100 Years of Upper Peninsula Writing, published by Michigan State University Press. He lives in Houghton, Michigan.