Heather June Gibbons

Two poems from Heather June Gibbons’s Exploded View
followed by a note on the author

Muse the Drudge

I, hackneyed beauty queen cut
with kitchen knife, whir, tilt off

spin fast, a heavy eddy, I am no
girl-wisp, nor clipped wingtip

nor treachery of baubles, nor branded
by word, nor shut up in a cave

no-body, no birdie, I leak, call me
Sheela-na-gig, Astarte, Dora, cheap

whiskey in cut-crystal, watch it your
earlobe’s in my teeth, I blow shit up

heart-husk, wax drip, I lick you, there
now you’re licked. I, twitchy harlot

I, muse the drudge, poison cup, slipknot
not precious, not spread, here, hold it

to your ear, hear me laughing.
I, kitten-heeled, do drop kick.

I, I, I, beget, taste, hang by threads
of smoke, I cloy, my mouth drips

venery, I weave my own shroud,
burn ink, and dare you, speak of me.


Etched into each fallen leaf is a diagram of a bare tree.
Things come with their own directions. They tell us
what we are about to see will likely appear senseless.
We say we want no part in it, but no one hears us

fall in the woods. We stagger around with the sound off,
the sky a pale bruise, burst capillaries in our cheeks
recording force the way a horizontal cross-section reveals
growth rings in a tree. We are told no one was harmed

in the making-of, the shattered window mere sugar glass,
but I felt the floor quake, I saw a woman’s skin lit
like a lamp. I remember driving under a blue bridge.
Later, I will produce a histogram of the image to better

manipulate the colors. A somewhat random sample
of a hundred observations from the normal distribution
shards of ice angled on the creek breaking against each other.
We hadn’t seen anything of this magnitude before

except for the time the hounds found the wounded elk.
Blood in the snow, a red telephone and a black
telephone in the snow, then a spotted orchid.
What I am showing you is the exploded view.

Cracked bird bath in the snow. Fallen tree, monograph
by a noted dendrologist. His children, heirs to his
headaches, will remember how he squinted at the page.
In spring, his papers will thaw to the contours of bark.
By summer, they will have disintegrated.

Heather June Gibbons is the author of the chapbook Flyover, and recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Eleven Eleven, Jet Fuel Review, New American Writing, and Sixth Finch. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she teaches creative writing at San Francisco State University. http://www.heatherjunegibbons.com/

Muse the Drudge first appeared in Best New Poets 2006. Diagram first appeared in West Branch.