Lisa Fay Coutley


Which means I’ve started watching YouTube
clips from the local dog shelter in the city
I was sure I’d burned behind us. Familiar
never pushes in its chair or leaves the table

quiet. We live in a box. At night, I lock us
inside & hope no one breaks in, or out.
Sometimes, pre-sleep, I spin scenarios
of what might happen. My sons never make it

to college or marriage or fatherhood.
I try to imagine how my whole life has passed
& only this year have I noticed my own

pigeon-toed stride. Parked, I’m stalking
my oldest boy as he walks from school
to his friend’s, where they’ll sit, chillin’
& smokin’ blunts all day.
 & so love saunters

dumbly away. No glancing back. This is it:
the dream where I’m screaming underwater
or trying to punch some bitch in the face.
Voiceless. Armless. Careo—in need of, free

from, without. A kenneled dog comes closer
to the word for missing than this dead language
I’m learning, in this house where no one speaks.

Lisa Fay Coutley’s poems have been awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, scholarships to the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences, and an Academy of American Poets Levis Prize. Her chapbook In the Carnival of Breathing won the Black River Chapbook Competition (Black Lawrence Press, 2011).