by Betsy Bonner


Every highway has a thousand ghosts,
and every ghost, a thousand exits.

We line up for the Dreamway,
our nation’s first, limited-access

divided highway. With a ciggy
in one hand, the other spinning

Fortune’s wheel, my sister’s good
at getting lost. Not her dark hair dripping

from a late-morning shower,
not even the weight of her acoustic

can keep trash bags of clothes—
criminally loved—

from flying out the back.
Later, pink cords, rhinestone belt.

Angel truck beds need no covers
but will shudder, in wind, in rain.

Sister, see those dotted lines?
Or the barred ones, at least?

They indicate most distinctly
how not to drive like an asshole-ghost.

Every sister has a thousand songs,
and every one begins the same:

Show me show me show me.



Quarrel in Summer

A lamb crossed her face when she meant self-harm.
Then I realized it was not one,

but many lambs moving in the same direction
over untended fields. Hooves wrested

her features to grass. I curled on the forehead
and slept under rain-

blackened trees. I was fitted for this, to exist
in the liable interstices

between heartbeats. Between fence posts,
hot mess of juniper. To stand before

scars of a soul dividing—
to outlive her.





I remember waking
in bluer depths,

my moon-mouth
gulping air,

hungry for
no one.


Her body, mind-worn
ruin of June.

Such faith in machines,
her watch of sky,

clothing in wind
a ruin, this June.


scarves and opinions

line her cult
of perishing.

There are lapses
in my salvages.


After loss, a tree grows
in the heart.

It will cancel pleasure,
say the rain and mice

that gnaw through
my house.



Playing Bach

I’m building up
the silent bones
with a distracting love
of music.

Words scale
and fall in a
similar way,
like hands letting

one field lie
fallow to better
another. You were gone
like a paper lantern

in a ceremony
for Daimonji.
Hands placed thousands
of lights in the river,

one by one. Combined,
they form a thin,
glowing snake
on water, bobbing

a subtle “S” shape
for hours. The ceremony
seems miraculous.
How can it be,

I wonder, the river
isn’t crowded?
What about the other
candles? In a moment,

I understand. A monk
on the other side
plucks the ones
drifting his way,

snuffing them out.
He arranges the expired
lanterns on the bank
in neat, endless rows.

We should be careful
of each other; yes.
God is less kind
than meticulous.