Lillian-Yvonne Bertram

For Dylan



Ice sheets rise

from the waves

of the frozen lake.


On loop, geese rake

the gray sky

in starlocked Vs.


You choose

now to come

to me


as I swell

with fracturing



What are you

doing: here

inside the home


you never came to,

mouthing your



I madly

want you

to right it


but the lesson’s

to hear

what a man

tells you he is:


sand nailed

to the desert,


ship leaked

from a bottle,


bottle tossed

in the dry wash.


My choler

at having to skim

without you:


when you speak,

I want to force

your teeth out,


make little rockets

of blood

between us.


Birds leave

the fish frozen

and dead. You’re


holding me

and then

a first—


you ask,

but your please



salts me


I loved, I defiled

–St. Augustine



No small power, this: to find

the nail that has been hurting you,

the want to bid you back

from undone to our bed.


I keep country with a tarantula

poised in a hardened epoch,

amber gravity greater

than the horned heads


tracing the ravine beyond

this window. Gusts from their nostrils

are wools to comfortably die toward,

the thick locks against a fire.


There is no track back to how

just we stood, inhaling

the salt coast like those born

to inherit a name.


No small power, the noose of you,

art of my grossest fear. No surprise

that in the dream


where I bear you, we admit more

than ever: we have a hundred ornamental

children. A god sneers & the fall

breaks all their necks.


LILLIAN-YVONNE BERTRAM is the recipient of a 2014 National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship and author of But a Storm is Blowing From Paradise (Red Hen Press), chosen by Claudia Rankine as winner of the 2010 Benjamin Saltman Award. Her chapbook cutthroat glamours is available from Phantom Books. Her books a slice from the cake made of air and personal science are forthcoming from Red Hen Press and Tupelo Press, respectively.