Jan Verberkmoes – Two Poems

animal close up country countryside
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Elegy as Recursion: Into Another by Jan Verberkmoes


Have you seen a horse bite a man   the skin splits
wide and clean   where the horse’s broad teeth
hit his skull   and for that the man sends a bullet
through the white star of her forehead

when the bullet pops through the star
the horse collapses   head first
through one field   into another

daylight guns the horizon into a pink blaze
and I fall through the horse’s blown star
back into the field where you stood   facing east
calling me over   like you’d found something

daylight guns the horizon   and its vanishing point
collapses into the grass at our feet
you say couldn’t we do this without the horse
without the horizon   without any bodies in a field

but have you seen a horse bury herself
she falls through the vanishing point in her body
and into a field       she digs with her teeth

haven’t I          seen this morning before
all pink edges and no stars         and this horse
who was built for running but won’t     and this man
trying to lift the light of her head


First appeared in 32 poems


brown and white cow on grassfield
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Elegy as Insistence: Bulls in a Field by Jan Verberkmoes


There is only morning   it shimmers
and shifts into bodies   into beasts
into the man sleeping   now waking   in the damp grass
a jar of ashes at his side   and the bulls still running loose  though tired
inside his skull   they ram here and there against its walls
as last night’s star-smeared sky   spreads clean now   and flat over him
jar in hand  he walks toward the spring creek
its water draws a cold thrill through the meadow
and the bulls groan dark   from their anvil heads
as he wades knee-deep into the current
he remembers the ashes back into his sister   when she told him
loss   is no more one thing than the sky is one thing
the pasture behind her eyes  lay wide and empty
and looked like a place he could sleep
he tips the jar and lets the ash fall into the stream   and the cold
rolls over in its bed  over  over
until she’s neither ash   nor water
the stars the stars the bulls low behind his eyes
he forgets about the stream   and the meadow
and nothing could be so empty     as the jar in his hands


First appeared in 32 poems


Jan Verberkmoes is a poet and editor from Oregon. She’s currently a Stadler Fellow at Bucknell University and has poems forthcoming in The Paris ReviewBennington Review, and The Indiana Review, among others.