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THE NEW PROMISE by Joshua R. Helms | Word Riot

September 15, 2014      

THE NEW PROMISE by Joshua R. Helms

Snow waters underneath his boots. His hands,
sap-stained, trace circles on my chest. If a leaf

wrinkles, my eyes close for a few seconds. If
a branch breaks, I’m unable to use my arm

for several days. If he returns with firewood,
the foundation shakes, slivers, relocates.

One thought: will he ever see my body the same
again. Another: will I ever see his again at all.

There is no promise at the end & nothing
is ever new. Just a ghost & every room

lain to ruins. Walls standing only because
we are leaning against them. It was always

the missing body, the forgotten name, the bones
beneath the bristling backyard. The hundred ways

I have tried to cover every inch in new skin:
freedom from fear & whatever comes after.

Barefoot & fingers bleeding, delineating this
expression of block against block, meaning

against & along the edge of his ear. The plot
suspended. The theater empty or teeming;

it doesn’t matter. Beyond perspective, exhibition,
reception. Dead flowers in my hair, growing

from the back of my neck. My weight will never
fall this way again, will never, sleeping, turn to.

joshua r. helms head shotAbout the author:

Joshua R. Helms completed his MFA at the University of Alabama in 2013. His work has appeared in Copper Nickel, DIAGRAM, Fairy Tale Review, Phoebe, New England Review, and Redivider, among others. His first book, Machines Like Us, won the inaugural Dzanc Poetry Collection Award (judged by C. Dale Young) and is forthcoming from Dzanc Books in fall of 2014.

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