The Phases of Sleep

 

My dog sickles and rounds in my bed.

No almanac predicts his phases; I learn

by feel.  When he curls a perfect circle,

I sleep well, feet warmed by his glow.

Round dog means a harvest of dreams.

But when he spikes, I ghost the house,

watching shadows shiver the lawn, skin

prickling in the drafts from the open

windows.  Sickle dog groans in his sleep,

furrowing flesh as he flees the invisible.

Why not banish him, then?  Why?  One

day, like all gods, he will abandon me

 

Servants of Moloch

 

Today a child was stabbed in her sleep,

the most recent sacrifice to Moloch,

god of many altars, many whetstones.

 

The child may wash gently onto shore, be

shot in utero, explode a mine, be crushed

in detonation—all whet his fierce appetite.

 

The child needn’t even die—the god as hungrily

accepts the dull-eyed famine stare, despair,

displacement, apathy, vengeance.

 

Everywhere, the climate is inhospitable—

too hot, too sere, too fraught.  Flies would

practice diapause—but not mankind.

 

Ever fertile, we deliver death-dealers and victims,

fuel the fearsome engines of state and tribe,

spin shrouds, dig graves, ready new pyres.

 

Devon Balwit is a poet and educator from Portland, Oregon. She has a chapbook, Forms Most Marvelous, forthcoming from dancing girl press (summer 2017). Her recent poems have appeared in numerous print/on-line journals, among them: Oyez, Red Paint Hill, The Ekphrastic Review, Serving House Journal, Timberline Review, The Prick of the Spindle, and Rat’s Ass Review.