about the author

Liz Bowen is an editor, poet and Brooklyn transplant by way of backwoods Maryland. She has poems published or forthcoming in anderbo, decomP, Euphony, JMWW and NEON, and she won Fordham University’s Ully Hirsch/Robert Nettleton Poetry Prize two years in a row. Her favorite pieces of the world include brunch, book-buying binges, and every pet she’s ever had.

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Rules for Gravel Boys

Liz Bowen

There’ll be berries on the side of the road
but don’t pick them, or at least
only pick the black ones.

Red isn’t meant for you,
who moves like a bee saunters
inside the sweat of a tall sunflower.

Red is for the darting animals
that bite quick with brown teeth
and hide in the hopped-up shadows
of spinning tires.

There is nothing in the woods
worth running after.
They are full of wavelengths
you won’t understand
and signals with finely coded claws.

If you go in
and you find a “get out” sign,
get out.

If you find a power plant,
lift up your yellow backpack
so the guns see you coming.

The road is short,
but full of berries.
Take only what you can hold
in one hand.

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