Winter 2021 - Poetry


Winter 2021



Alison Stine

Planned Community, Southern Ohio


The woman you sometimes picture me

with posted photos: slaughtering a hog.


She’s a wolf, I’ve been told. Often


I picture myself in a bathtub of worms.

How to tell about small kindness: I am not


the sort of person to make an altar

of men. I am not the kind of person


to stand in the doorway of a motel,


my dress a beaded curtain. I put away sex

like a hatbox. I need nothing but a glow.


I get my fix from sleep and sugar.

I need no touch but a wing.


The thing I remember most


was the steaming

body laid open on a steel garage plank,


amid the ATVs and the open air.

Grit punks getting it done.


Because there is no sate without struggle.


I wait. You wait with plates.

The bamboo feels solid as silk


or scalded water.


In the photos, the hog was a rib pink blur:

the boys with knives—and the white air, rising.


Alison Stine's first novel Road Out of Winter was published in 2020 (MIRA/HarperCollins). Also the author of several books of poems, including Ohio Violence, her awards include an NEA Fellowship and a reporting fellowship from National Geographic. A longtime resident of Appalachian Ohio, she now lives in Colorado and writes for The New York Times and others. Her next novel, Trashlands, releases in October 2021.

This project is partially supported by the Illinois Arts Council

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  © Ninth Letter, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.