When Mountains’ Heads Roll

In the land of false prophets, I tell my kin

of our ancestors, twelve feet tall

and broad as rivers, faces upturned

to good sun and rain.

We were somebody, once.


Master’s house and Master’s tools but

I don’t know what’s been said of Molotov’s.

Our land runs black and water orange,

and we are told the polls are open for change,

but neither head speaks a tongue we know.


My people used to use their hands but

my fist upraised means anarchy.

In the land of hollow promises, I see

the wires and hear the cues,

our prearranged deaths

coming down the pipe-line.

The Johnson Girl


they say she cut all her hair off they say she don’t walk
like she used to they say they don’t care one way or the other

but they’d just like to know


cross town, they don’t say much except she’s come home for christmas eve and christmas and will be gone before new year’s

and her hair is so short you can see her scalp


she is greater and smaller,

stooped expanded

too small for her clothes

too large for her father’s house


cross town again they say she was

such a sweet girl, meaning,

she had been quiet and never made trouble,

now she’s gone and ruined notions of womanhood and decency


she could have made it over here you know, they claim 

in offended and generous mutterings, if she hadntve run off

she was almost halfway civilized

all things considered


the sun must not set on montana because her face has gone dark, burned deep in the dermis and epidermis and sunspots and wrinkles, someone sees her buying marlboros at the dried up gas station and says


that must be it

because it’s easier than realizing she’s been gone eight years and a lot of life

turns under your feet that long out


she goes down on the river

where boys drink long from lukewarm cans

and shoots one of them who she knew

before and that’s the end of that

Emily Blair is a recent graduate from Virginia Tech and a Master’s student in English at the University of Louisville. Her poetry has appeared in Maudlin House, Green Blotter, The Vehicle, The Roanoke Review, Philologia, The Helix, and elsewhere.

© Ira Joel Haber

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