Morning Bell

Emily Bjustrom

Exposed in cruel white light
The hours crash into each other
A bully’s restless hands
Tighten into apologies

The hours crash into me,
My best wishes, thoughts and prayers
Tighten into apologies
I threw myself onto this stage.

Best wishes thoughts and prayers
For the magnet in the door frame- it’ll save our lives someday
I threw myself into this
130 papercuts-for-eyes

It’ll save my life someday.
Gentle hands in soft white light
130 papercuts-for-eyes
Begging me to still the careening clock.


Fear sits in the back seat of my car-
I saw him in my rearview mirror.
His name is the pit of my stomach.

He is the face of a boy
Who tells me his father
Will beat him
If he fails.

Fear is the father.

My skin is a sack
Carrying the raw red meat of me.

He is closing the distance between us.
This is what I dread most.
The space and taught wire
Of the moment before a kiss
And a trap is sprung.

I know him.
He turned away from me
As the wind blew dust into my eyes
My mouth

My hands open and close against themselves
I flutter like a moth at the window against the panes.
I’m lying on the floor again;
Watching the tile as I walk;
Holding my head as I sleep.

If I didn’t look back I wouldn’t see him.
But there he is-
Pressed into pills on my bedside table
Squeezing my stomach with a cold hand

A familiar love
Cold tongues of water lapping
at my feet.


Emily Bjustrom

After Joy Harjo

Remember the sky you were born under-
The light and how it shadowed
Your mother’s face

How she howled and screeched-
The two of you were Human then

Remember your feet
How they carried you
Up mountains and trees

You clung to them
Remember the breeze
How it kissed you
And blessed you with its touch

You knew then what animal you were

Noon & Sunset

Emily Bjustrom

When I was a toothy girl,
Stumbling through the bosque,
I found a white cross among the reeds.

It was someone’s drowned brother.

I am pulled into the silt.

I remember this and want to smoke
a cigarette
like I did with my sister on the beach
of the river while it was wide and shallow.

But I won’t. I will love carefully,
only bum cigarettes when I am three drinks deep and happy,

because I’m alive on someone’s back porch.
Alive in someone’s hands and mouth.
Safe with the knowledge
that in the morning I will spit the opulent guilt into the sink
and breathe away the swill.


Emily Bjustrom

After Natalie Diaz

While she sleeps, I paint
the windows shut.
To trap the cold wet light of evening.

After a summer thunderstorm,

I am pacing and strange.
My bones- a girl.
Soft and still,
as the air sneaks
to wake her.

She is my spine.
The hollow points in me
The cave in my belly

I paint the spaces between
the clouds and the backs of my knees

Dust gathers on the sill
scent of passing rain- starched cotton.

An empty hand unfurls.

Reawaken & Stay

Emily Bjustrom

At Dawn I could be anywhere:
on the edge of my desk,
talking about
what it means to be a Mountain.

I’ve sat the Dawn on Mountains and Beaches.
Alone in a New Light,
I too am Aflame,
burning paper Bridges.

Between people
bridges connect as much as they separate.

When you make a promise you should keep it.
I am nothing without my word.

The Dawn is a cold fire,
the Dawn is a Promise,
unshakable in its certainty.

This moment
like everyone before it
sparks and catches.