Stacey Balkun
--New Orleans, LA

We spilled notes on bar napkins, novelists bussing away
our empty pint glasses, everyone waiting
for that moment when the frycook would bring his slide guitar
to the back bar, spit blues as the roosters begin their call.
We all have a story to tell. In the bar, we all felt like lovers,
thirteen couples dancing to the growls of Ukranian hooligans
with a fiddle and a bass. The band didn’t play until a bottle of vodka
was passed up to the stage, until I held a stranger’s waist
and waltzed across the dimlit dance floor. I know
the best breakfast special offered by a bar.
I know a great croissant place beside a strip club
where you can still hear the church bells ring.
On Bourbon once, I hugged a pole dancer and the glitter
spread across my chest for days. There is no escape
from the sparkle of the hours between midnight and dawn,
from swollen ankles. I pranced all around this city
and I still thought only of you. Signor, you are my glimmer.


From a distance, the planet looks
soft as skin, mesas rising from the flat
land, hand held across

a bellybutton, small desert brush
with leaves curling like toes in the heat
hot sun begging down

over the yellow curves
and small hairs, freckled with pebbles
a continuous aubade

and there, there so close
is a single finger stroking
the pale blue, fingernail

ghost white, hanging
crescent moon, canyon
parting for the wind, the scream

Stacey Balkun is a New Jersey poet with her heart in the south. She was named an honorable mention in the Tupelo Press Spring 2011 Poetry Project. Her work has appeared in INCH, The New Laurel Review, Paper & The Sea, Hoot Review, and in cookbooks and audio recordings across the country. She lives in California, where she explores the deserts, mountains, and lakes.