Megan Burns

                                                 what I meant to do was to never rely on beauty

                                                                                                        -D. DiPrima



Wing Split


were we not at war, i would have noticed more 


maybe if we were not, pistol in hand firing blindly 

the body made for endurance gravitates towards cruelty,

estranged means tied to the trunks of the palms till you fly 


st. corona, she who shall split loss with belief

don't cry, it hollows a woman, she is strung 

between the bending till she blooms, sacred

a person can love you into sickness

think beauty concedes, the most perfect 

pin-up is a girl easily necked so a yoking less bothers


the camera is a clicking capture a plenty 

nothing, caught a slim response: i want to learn

to not miss terrible things, even a clawed animal 

can lose its grip: what i took from death was mine to cling

the brightness cracks 


apart and was that a fair trade for love, to lose time

i will ask always, whose fault was it, the city itself

could not hold and we did not and even the line of the poem

left us wanting, even the sound of his face confidential 

pressed against mine in the days before exposure

i never dreamed, we would say we were afraid to lose

before i reached you, i was afraid love was beyond 

my touch, my animal body was made to hold fear 

but tender 


this trade between us soft,  i think a slow treading 

is what doubts, part of belief is understanding. 

tell me a story of how we make it to the other side, 

to the rest of our lives, to the world inside chaos, 

hold me and listen: one more song then we leave 

he says. 


we had nothing but time on repeat between us. 


You can’t wipe your tears


if you start sobbing in the grocery store

you have to stay committed 

to the task at hand because you are risking

your life and the children are at home

you tell yourself that must mean

you matter to someone. it has to be enough

in this life. when you don’t have any reason 

to think on the other side of this is better.

you know it won’t be. for you anyway. 

when surviving things has only taught you

it’s a lead up to raising the stakes on suffering

and what else can i give up. what else can i let go.

i have to contend that everything i love is ashes.

everything i touch burning to the ground. 

the house on fire. so long now i forget to leave

and no is asking why you can’t stop crying.

no one even sees a splintering, you can run 

all the errands, the post office, the bank, you 

can play being human while your heart explodes

messy and your body shakes and you can’t breathe 

but you can. you keep breathing. and you keep crying 

and the tears just have to accumulate. the way the hours

do. the way disappointment does. the way you keep 

trying to tell a different story but mostly it was not giving 

up until you do. until you have to admit defeat.  until you have 

to stand in the middle of familiar and be honest that you can’t 

do it anymore. you have to sink to the bottom of the drowning. 

and then you put the milk next to the eggs next to the butter

next to dissociation next to numbness next to i tried to spend 

my life learning how to feel again but here we are. back where

we began. you put suicide back on the conveyor. 

watch it move forward. 


for Laura Mattingly


take this medicine
for the poison is in my body
take this poison
for the medicine is my body
take my hands
for the distance between us is well or not
take this moment
for time is moving about us
we don't know how to step outside
or under yet where the rot of this living can't touch
this veil of forget & i would not forget any of it
is what we open in grief: take this warning
for i have been thrown under the wheels of death
and it's all consuming and has no eyes for backwards glances
take this position beneath me and i would hold you down
to hours we spent walking in the sun and how we never said survive
without laughter and here we are: we are never going to stop moving forward
until we are done. and we are going to be done
but we dance in this season as if undoing
was in the sound all unsaid and unheard
how we small, how we helpless
what matters is the safety of you
and can i make safe
and can i make safe
and can i make it

i want to remember all of it
was my hand in the mud, to the root of it
at the crossroads where we bargain our souls and take plenty
i would believe in anything for you
do you understand to make you safe, i would believe
in anything and move the world itself into patterns of no harm so we could be gentle


we go gently into that love's light of us

Megan Burns is the publisher at Trembling Pillow Press ( She also hosts the Blood Jet Poetry Reading Series in New Orleans and is the co-founder of the New Orleans Poetry Festival ( She has been most recently published in Jacket Magazine, Callaloo, New Laurel Review, Dream Pop, and Diagram. Her poetry and prose reviews have been published in Tarpaulin Sky, Gently Read Lit, Big Bridge, and Rain Taxi. She has four books, Memorial + Sight Lines (2008), Sound and Basin (2013), Commitment (2015), and Basic Programming (2018), published by Lavender Ink. She has two recent chapbooks: Dollbaby (Horseless Press, 2013) and i always wanted to start over (Nous-Zot Press, 2014). Horse Less Press released her Twin Peaks chap, Sleepwalk With Me, in 2016.