Three Poems

Donna Vorreyer

Builded Him An Altar


I arrange trinkets          on a foldaway chair

a lock                        of your hair                       the handle of a teacup

            the nub of a candle                    from the winter I ate

                        only mints and stones             and mourned our dog


I wade through this      strange assemblage

            of memories                                 the distant mutterings of you

                        in half-sleep                      signals sailing across miles

                                    to echo                    in the crook of my elbow


A tin horn from Paris   a lump of coal from the Christmas

            I caught you                      with another girl            No matter now   

                        I twist a leather thong             around my wrist

                                    The future hisses                       like a B-movie monster


but still I plan       our kisses  ready to muck through

            all manner of reptiles   I festoon these totems with beads

                        and blood   finger the circuitry        of your discarded cell                                                              Your breath                       a censer      swings past my ears



Sounded Forth The Trumpet


You do not answer your phone, so I drive. The air smells of moss and flannel. When I arrive, alarmed by my devotion, you rub your neck. You let me in, and we decide to play checkers, rewind the pace, pad barefoot around the place, sugaring currants for jam, listening to the shred of 70s guitars. You spill the salt with your Deadhead dance, toss some over your shoulder and swerve and shimmy up behind me like a pale slow curve. I spread my hands, fling seeds to catch in your dirt, but they clatter to the floor. Everything still hurts, and my hands are an empty garden. We spark like wires, the music rattling our bones to sway, our bellies fire, our mouths poppies opening to release the suns tucked inside. We weave garlands, pretend we’re not fucked. This is how we ignore the doubt, hands grasping at oaths we swore years ago now pale-gilled and gasping on the dock. Soon enough, the venom creeps in. This day that lured us toward joy now hooks our sin straight back toward guilt, the light we bask in most days, the ferns drooping in their baskets. We coast apart, turn the music down. The currants burn, the stench sweet and dead, like blood. We never learn.



The Fateful Lightning


The sky thickens with clouds big as

            trucks, big as Texas, and tonight

                        the slow sad whistle of the train

                                    in the distance will be no more than

                        a murmur in a dead man’s throat.

            It begins like the pinging of rain

on tin, like the crackle of a telephone

too long off the hook, a gathering

of voltage tracing its way to our room

            until, struck, we tremble as it vibrates

                        our hands, our thighs, never the same

                                    place twice, too real to be ignored, no

                        taunting teenage crush, but something

            that leaves us tumbled, limb on limb,

blue pulsing through us, pulsing toward

tomorrow where we will seek another

            storm, find a kite, a string, a key, anything

                                    to fly ourselves back to this flashing.












 About the Writer
Split Lip Magazine

Donna Vorreyer is the author of Every Love Story is an Apocalypse Story (Sundress Publications, 2016) and A House of Many Windows (Sundress Publications, 2013) as well as eight chapbooks, most recentlyTinder, Smolder, Bones, and Snow (dancing girl press).  She serves as the reviews editor for Stirring: A Literary Collection and teaches middle school in the suburbs of Chicago.