a poetry e-zine










Devon Balwit
The Unmasking

Babe in the woods, I pick up a nestling
that has fallen, reach to put it back,
but there is no back. I dream you
hand me a camera, say Take pictures
of us.
I understand that I am not
to be in them; I do my best. That’s
a nice one,
you say. Everyone laughs,
faces haloed by pale sun. Your words
lose their shape, only the faintest
of mountain and valley folds remaining.
Somewhere vast pumps suck and void.
After I wake, it will take days
to scrape the sludge from the salvage.

True Crime

These detectives are so ho-hum, wading through
blood to the bodies, faces unchanging even at the

stink of weeks. They kneel for a closer look, note
weapon, prints, spatter, the damage done. New

victims are shuffled into their pack like game cards.
One imagines the backroom banter—I’ll give

you five shot for one garroted, two smothered for
a drowned.
Cigarettes tilt from expert lips as they

break the news to next-of-kin, who wail, stand stoic,
or collapse according to type. No wonder these cops

seem so Film Noir, color and affect drained by
fraught repetition, drinking like fish and fucking

to forget. Where do they come from? Do-gooders
wouldn’t last a year. Only the perverse or the damned

could forever circle hell. What a relief when
the season ends, and I can believe my neighbors good.


outside, waiting to enter / inside, waiting to exit
threshold, a place of expectation

up a manmade mountain in the jungle
stairs rise to God’s ear

stone on stone, herms
witness our passage

a dead bird on a sun-warmed wall
rests before decomposition

father’s collar slopes like a hillside
Cuchulain, a warrior giant

mother’s determined chin outside the car window
no way to confess fear

a redundancy of segments
intermediate between geometric solid and organism

in art history slides
beasts of ochre, charcoal, clay thunder across millennia

a love letter slips from one’s pocket in the rain
memento to trash

the curtain flutters
a hand pulls it to

Will you believe me if I say

I had proof

that I climbed

of struggle,

eyes squinting
against glare,

lips parted to ease
laboring lungs,

dizzying vistas,
sheer cliffs,

rappel ropes still
in place,

the crevasse
which almost swallowed me,

crampons, ice axe, pounds
of coiled rope,

and at the summit,

are lost,

a casualty
of dislocation.

I have unearthed

bearing dead teachers’
spidery annotations,

love notes
from college,

my own birth

but these,
I have not found.

My audience
must trust

that I tested
each rock

for commitment
to cliff,

that my misstep
sent four people

to the lip

of plummet,
that I was not the one

by helicopter.

Nothing but words

of those weeks
when I nearly flew.

Devon Balwit is a teacher and writer from in Portland, OR. She has two chapbooks forthcoming in 2017: 'how the blessed travel,' from Maverick Duck Press, and 'Forms Most Marvelous,' from dancing girl press. Her recent work has found many homes, among them: The Cincinnati Review, Red Earth Review, Noble/Gas Quarterly, Peacock Review, Sweet, The Stillwater Review, Oyez, Timberline Review, Prachya Review, The Bookends Review, and Kindred. If you like her work, reach out on FB.

Copyright 2017  Chantarelle's Notebook