There They Were in a Pile, a Pile of Little Arms

Nick Alti


Half of me contorted in this crocodile skin valise, I still suggest we replace the body politic with
the body sonorous.
Wrapped tightly in axioms & aphorisms, watching you brush your teeth from outside your
window, I say to myself surely nothing is evil.
But I have to feed the goldfinches in winter & I have to bury my scarecrow & I have to find a
camera that can take pictures of miracles.
I’ll never go shopping again just look at me in my golden retriever scarf & my love-lies-
bleeding nightgown just look.
I confess to the garden I fear that I will go to war & die.
I fear that I will go to war & live.


Dear man with knife who followed my mother to the dumpster one night in 1971 when she was a waitress at a café we all wish never burned down,

                       It’s so hard to not become addicted to any and all things these days with everything these days voluptuous and robust and fleshy and with finely tuned syntax and having something akin to confidence if you don’t look hard enough and I just wanted to say you should never look hard enough you should never look at anything at all because it’s too hard to find the beauty disguised in the egg you meant to nurse but instead stepped on and in the embryo plastered to the sole of your work boot you can find a heart throbbing but not solace.

Please send money for ammunition and drugs,

–the lost body of Cornfield Kid.


Somewhere near & covered in mud
my small body cries for mother—

White fur,
dull teeth,
man hands,
goat horns,
child’s voice,
heart of songbird.

I have a right to know,
I have a right to know the eyes of the face of the voice singing from the windmill in the sky.


A war of clouds
approaching from the east & west
congeals into one heavenly mass.
The loons all rise to zenith
then fall separately dead to earth.
The great godhead cloud bifurcates,
infinite bifurcations as the dissipated beacon of we-might-just-make-it-out-alive
falls weeping into the ocean, & the impact
of heaven colliding against
villages & forgotten landmines
sounds not like what we hoped for, not like actual violence,
but like Earth itself joining hands with a very old man
coughing up blood in a forest.


Nick AltiNick Alti is 22 and bartends at wineries and breweries near his hometown, Stevensville, Michigan, until he can move to Oregon. His poetry and fiction appear in Maudlin House, Steam Ticket, The Birds We Piled Loosely, and elsewhere. He helps edit novels and judge poetry contests at New Issues Press.