Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 17
Fall 2017

Keep a bullet in your pocket for times like these

by Terry Wolverton

I didn’t ask for any lip. Just wanted a sip
of twilight before taking the train to the Death Park.

It’s like a carnival, attendants dressed in paper
hats, mouthing pretty words in lost languages.

Irresistible summer night; no camera can
forget its red horizon, invitation of clouds.

In a corner of the parking lot, the fire eater
speaks his intentions. He needs a lighter for his songs.

A child psychic paints potential, talks of things to come.
It’s his habit to live forward, never to look back.

No apologies. I was a baby once. In an
instant it’s time to go, leave behind no witnesses.

As we dance in the cafeteria of young trees, 
the urge to sing comes from a need to cup our silence. 

In this museum of roses we’re disposable.
I want to drink from your red lips before I drop off.


—Previously published in Entropy Magazine (25 May 2017) as part of the poet’s dis•articulations project; appears here with her permission

SHJ Issue 17
Fall 2017

Terry Wolverton

is the author of ten books of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, including Embers, a novel in poems, and Insurgent Muse: life and art at the Woman’s Building, a memoir. Her newest poetry collection, Ruin Porn, will be published at the end of 2017. She is the founder of Writers At Work, a creative writing studio in Los Angeles, and Affiliate Faculty in the MFA Writing Program at Antioch University Los Angeles.

Author’s website:

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury