In the Aftermath


Each body broken, violet wounds, ash,

bullets like fireflies, dozens of caskets

weighted with clay unmade by misplaced rage.


Mourning continues as a vacant ache,

an absence heavier than upturned dirt

while the body’s a miracle of dust


and lightning. Yes, I would like to be scorched

under the umbrella of you tonight,

can’t wait to burn with the mercy of your


fevered kisses. Please reduce me to soot.

Please use me to mark the doltish faces

of those who would deny we are dying


or show me how I can twist grief’s thick neck

into a shield I carry through the world.





Everything good happens in another town.

They’ve got better schools, better teams,

better-looking beauties at whom to stare.


What did those people do to earn

such bounty? At night tears swarm

your cheeks, escape shapes your dreams.


In a field between here & there kids get wasted

on cheap beer and whip-its while snow

complicates someone’s climb up the tower.


They fall & die. You cut off your hair, master

your misery and start to wonder

about other towns with fresher meadows,


how much money you have hidden in the drawer,

how long you can survive on air and straw.


SM Stubbs

SM Stubbs until very recently co-owned a bar in Brooklyn. Recipient of a scholarship to Bread Loaf, he has been nominated for the Pushcart and Best New Poets. Winner of the 2019 Rose Warner Poetry Prize from The Freshwater Review and runner-up in several others. His work has appeared in Poetry Northwest, The Normal School, Puerto del Sol, Carolina Quarterly, New Ohio Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Crab Creek Review, December, The Rumpus, among others.

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