Poems by Gabriella R. Tallmadge: Veterans Day 2019 Special Issue, Poetry

“The Hypnotist Suggests the Word Home”

Labyrinth, rapture, salvo. The release, all at once, a rack of rockets, a salve. Dismantling the elk nest,

ants in the scaffolding of our bed. Of ruin. Of run. Of our mouths—like mountains—damp and

The first story I told: The VA gave him a 100% disability rating. Addresses given,

gone defunct, turned black, amputated. Addresses long hemmed in our guts like heat, hardening at

our center like diamonds. Deployment after deployment, diagnosis. Called condition. The outline in the doorway

after dreaming. The distances crossed. We called it going to forget gone. A training. Opposite of

occupation. We called it occupation to forget waiting. The small herd pact, the smell of us settling on the

grass. What could we have done? As in, removed from. As in, caged up / set free. As in, we. He said his

stories have become our stories. From Italian salva, from French salve, from Latin, hail!, from salvus, meaning

health. The first story is always about naming, creating—the genesis of voice.

 

“Unmap”

Constant state of what.                 Word for word for what

what wounded.                 Thrist of what, tending the fires of what

what of unknown origin.                 what a chronic condition.

what this foreign body.                 what slipping like steam

from a carcass on I-40.                               what fugitive.

what lost. what                 a ran horse emptied.

Inhabiting this land                         of what

Living through this what           snow blindness.

This hail, my teeth, it grows in me         this snow,

this all-inclusive what.             This whoosh of whoa

goes past me, driving and what             holds me

by the throat                 Chandelier of lightning, lamp

of what around the moon.         Tide by tide, I tow each blank

hemisphere, I lope.       On the highway signs say

Lay Down Your what                   and be Saved,

say Feed Your Strangers,         say Hang In There, Baby.

Fast and metal, this blind                       bomb, I run.

Little transient           what, I go. Caught

in the deep of the                     dark, my what

a thousand years       or more—

kingdom of what,                     place of dazzling

zoologies of what,         herds of what, flocks of what,

stumbling drunk               under the heaven of what.

Cathedral hush           and hunting, mapping

and splintering, digging           and burying,

drawn and drawing                 on me, a cleft.

what a mirror                             and mile marker, portrait gallery

of having left.

About the author

Gabriella R. Tallmadge is a Latinx writer and educator from San Diego, California. Her poetry has received awards from the Hedgebrook Writer in Residence Program, the Community of Writers Workshop, the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, and Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Gabriella’s poems have previously appeared in The Georgia Review, Crazyhorse, Guernica, Mid-American Review, and Best New Poets. You can find links to more of her work at www.grtallmadge.com.

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