about the author

Danielle Wheeler is a recent graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, where she was the 2010-2011 Rona Jaffe Fellow in poetry and an instructor. She can be read in Caketrain, elimae, Softblow, and elsewhere, and she currently lives and teaches in the deep south. She can be found online at dcwheeler.blogspot.com. These five poems are excerpted from a collection entitled “After Finding Johnny Nephil’s Body.”


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from After Finding Johnny Nephil’s Body

Danielle Wheeler



You try to pry from your other person that sign that wildly makes the ground heat with other passions; neath dirt it was filled with living blood that makes an earth to follow down the things scraping at some treasure itself & other our bodies prying at.   She pauses puts the hand on the outer husk says within it will make a leg & a self stickier with dark weeds that livens the artery to talk, breathing still in the first earth which blowing now sees as if dark becomes dark within it loosened above the talk sweetens ice that by my lips I gave to more often than took    Find it, she said just the two of us left here at what feels like an end it is damp even in this sun she says because of all living life that takes from itself the energy until passing it gives itself into more of it & still we want more as we dip ourselves beneath and without each other from deep into blue



teeth being
bones of pain

the tongue
black ash &
oil



In the shed I said just get it done he were homeschooled    Touched a deer foot we found in the creek but they re-routed it, so he kept stuff in the soft soil we could use it like a trench I saw my fingers I saw my fingers in the white knobs I was the face that skull I saw a squirrel tail    Independent of movement it was moving though the way the trees do he just stupid they said I can feel that type of breeze where I want to breathe the strange moment you entered a green patch with nothing tall but all the haze in between    His other voice was deeper in the quiet, so deep in the quiet, we held into this space we’d see that it was just a yard at the end of the place with trees the stick wedged between our views like to pray in this space before windows entreated,    Into one type of leaf and the other had seen but not nearly enough to letter between the pages of the book if you go out at midnight turnt to the ash before I could read it



We found that
in the ground
which cannot be found he was
tall, and grey he was

we found him he was
named Johnny we said he
was not a giant I felt the soft gold
of a million coins

in my eyes. She moved like she felt silk
she was quiet, said Farry
Farry what did we find

It was air. Always coming from her mouth
was some sweet type of air
and I closed my eyes

But the bones. But the earth and
the worms were wet and
pleasant if she won’t touch me
here on holy ground

We were like ten. We were amazing
in our thoughts. We were close in every way
to oblivion, to pure fire
inside. And when the ribs

of the earth showed us a god
we prayed as if
our mouths didn’t taste
the dirt we knew inside us



It doesn’t speak for to notice that swell was my god Farry he said don’t be caught inside that, you will for certain need an army of soft stuff and such other as to be given by a hand you do not ask from,
           her palms down to match the river of a different blood beneath us. it was the way she spoke then the ideas of us were other than belief, than forgiveness. I askt what she could have to forgive and the hay waves a signal that the fire is not far off,


this ride, I say, oh just try. you cannot trust what every sense frees the moment a breath of other life makes motion, to notice what in space is a burnt ruin & has no sense on this place under old seas, old grounds for scattering. it wasn’t what they knew & you don’t know none either
           I am not willing she said to live in that way of which I am not made





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