Prayer at Half-Price Books


Lord, I tried to be good with my quotes,
scraped country from my tongue, penned opinions
on craft, theory, being. I dropped names—
even now they perch ready—and spoke codes,
ate small plates while playing just a bit dumber
than whoever wore the blazer. I’ve read them
all already, read them and still fallen.
The volumes of my days have changed. I decline.
Let a man size up my banana box
of books and pass me the value in cash.
I’ll take what I can get, then spend it fast
on coffee and starchy food. Let’s call it
communion, lord. Let’s call this surrender.
The end of trying, it’s being born again.

Fuck Marry Burn

All our parties are fires
on someone’s cousin’s property
at the end of unlit dirt roads
rutted deep from mudding
or that stretch of beach near the line
where town cops and the sheriff overlap
and neither ever bothers
Tonight’s dark with clouds
The south wind confuses waves
until the lake doesn’t know what to wreck
We’ve got a fifth of something flammable
and nowhere to be
Me I’m full of ghosts to burn
Hospital nights 
That guy with the Mustang who wouldn’t take me home
My 24th year from front to back
My Spanish teacher’s tongue
What I heard about myself when I knew I shouldn’t listen
Bras that were never for me
Hours I spent using the wrong end of the pencil
Whatever you got babe
throw it in and watch
We all turn young in smoke

Sand Made of Bones


When the rogue wave rose
         to its highest   rose to its utmost
shards of slate sheared off
   iced and graveled her shock-blind face
She knew an option must exist
but it was like a word she’d forgotten
        when most needed   a sound skittering
loose       from others
    not the thing itself—
and when peak gave over to avalanche
      when the waters’ plates slipped
  when all the earthy metaphors   when they too   withdrew
she knew then
      but too late too late

Jessica L. Walsh is the author of two collections, most recently The List of Last Tries, as well as two chapbooks. In addition to Stirring, her work has appeared in Tinderbox, RHINO, Rogue Agent, and many more journals. She teaches at a community college outside of Chicago.

Jessica’s work previously appeared in July 2018.