Dept. Meeting

Listening to the speaker—disclosure, she said, consequence—
he could literally hear his soul

withering—sound of a swallowtail smashed midflight
frying on the semitruck’s chrome grill—

which was fine because prior to this the soul’s existence had seemed
disputable, but now—objectives, goal-based

outcomes, interdepartmental checks and balances—
he was certain he could feel

yellow wings adorned with dark whorls folding open,
fanning abandoned coals inside his chest,

smoldering away decades of academic bleating, vague
apolitical sterilization—and even if

this sensation were mere delusion, heartburn hallucination
brought on by faux-crab dip

catered by a food service staff under budgetary restrictions,
he vowed to view it as visitation: contact

with the actual, scant but inimitable wind that was suddenly
the only thing he heard.



Boathouse sex—if you aren’t aroused yet,
you’ll never be. Whiskey and branding irons:
cringing, no? Fresh bread and the chakra
nearest the heart softens. I squirmed
and turned the music up when my son,
playfully torturing his friend, said chew
on wet wool, chew on wet wool! At nine
for me and Steve Sinadinos riding six
hours home from Peoria in grass-stained
jerseys, it was panty hose, the phrase
unstitching us with laughter, my mother
patient well past her threshold because
Steve’s dad had died two months prior
in the Dominican Republic, business trip
conjuring to this day the image of a man
face down in a Santa Domingo swimming
pool. Years earlier he had run his sedan
off the dry highway, driving a fence rail
and neck tie through his sternum, later
gaining survivor’s fame on Ripley’s,
that life one of the several he spent,
his sister told me, on his way to the casket
I looked into thinking myself brave
as Steve and his cousins milled around
the punch bowl. Entrances, words,
doors cut deep in clay. I meant to say
something about the universality
of a phrase like trembling winter grass
over snow, but his aunt asked softly
did he want some macaroni? Macaroni,
he said. Macaroni? He laughed, spilling
punch. He split a side saying the word,
laughing until the rest of us wept.



Chris Dombrowski‘s most recent book is the memoir, Body of Water (Milkweed, 2016), a Bloomberg News Book of the Year. His third poetry collection, Ragged Anthem (Wayne State University Press) is forthcoming in March 2019. He lives with his feral family in Missoula, MT, where he guides the rivers and directs the Beargrass Writing Workshops.