about the author

Brian Clifton has work in Pleiades, Guernica, Cincinnati Review, Salt Hill, Colorado Review, The Journal, Beloit Poetry Journal, and other magazines. Brian is an avid record collector and curator of curiosities.

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Two Poems 

Brian Clifton

Love Poem in Reverse

I turned around. First, his scatter-tooth key,
                      then my tonguing a tumbler clean.

Before stalking through the night, he stood
in the door. Before flinging his jacket on the sofa,
                      he put on all my clothes. First blood
then grooves toothed in skin. Over and over

in my brain, I said, That’s alright. It’s alright.
Like rows and rows of dead teeth, my forks
                      stood in a metal cup to dry.
John picked one up. John dropped it to the floor.

                      I danced them to their drawer.
I could almost float. I did—
                      I was at his door; its buzzer
made the leaves leap back into their limbs.

Who Cannot Place Themselves in the Soul of the Hunter?

The mosquitos undulate closer.
Yes, the heart is an empty muscle.
It fills its thorax with blood until
electricity pinches out its contents.
The hand slaps the back a few
times as if to say congratulations
to itself. Each mosquito wears
the coat of a previous mosquito.
They fly by one another. They tip
their top hats without a thought—
like they’ve met before. They have.
But the heart has no fingerprints.
There is no way of knowing one
from another. Not by beat. Not
at all. A mosquito inside the body
is a mosquito at work. Its heart
a wild mess with everything
it must have. It quivers. It is empty.
Then it is full. Its red orb floats
down to the grass where it molts.

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