Three Poems

Douglas Korb

New Year 



There was nothing in that drawer

except for what we would put there.


Neither of us were collectors 

but I had a fascination with hearts.


The many tubes of inletting and out-

letting - the round aorta done up


like a bun in your hair. Yours was 

the only one I captured. I remember 


how you handed it to me, on a cold 

slab of a morning, purple and throbbing. 


-14 degrees was planned for the evening.

I left with my boots on, carrying 


a darkly stained paper bag, held out 

like a lantern. All day I walked


through streets and up stairs, shouldering

a part of your body that you entrusted


to me. I did not mean to be greedy

when I returned home and asked to feel


the light your body gave off under the moon. 

It had been so cold that my fingers


broke off like small twigs. We placed them

in the empty drawer, and as we closed it,


they echoed as if reanimated with good news.




Narcissus Papyrus



When I read the poem about paper whites

I confused it with a money plant

having just emailed you about the credit card


Subject: $ Paid off! All I could do 

was think to celebrate, so I charged 

a sixpack, and we drank it as you taught me 


the difference between a paper white and 

an annual honesty. I'm not a gardener 

but I cultivate. You do your thing, I do 


mine and together we shared our own 

truths. The suffering I caused bitching 

about our debt, and how I wasn't sure 


where to hang my anxiety. Holy Christmas 

being over, dead trees line the streets 

and spill out of dumpsters which means I'm 


no longer freezing my ass off with a smile just 

freezing my ass off. I thought it would be good 

to see something sprout, so today I went to 


the flower shop with the pink orchid in the window, 

which I know I would kill, and instead walked out 

with a bundle of cut flowers all thorny stemmed & full


of prickers. Something to put a one-sided smile on 

your face as you forked the leftovers into your mouth 

saying through the mashed potatoes Isn't that just like you.




Event Horizon



It's Wednesday again

            and the week is half in

                        the bag from which I pull 

a tangerine for my two sons, 

            the fruit that looks like a star 

                        inside, my joke is all we eat 

is processed sunlight but no matter 

            what I say or do the world 

                        is always left hanging 

in the balance even though 

            there are moments when looking 

                        at small fingers learning 

to balance a sphere

            I feel a mortality in me 

                        that will not die. Like the time

someone said that star we look upon

            is trying to kill us

                        only I always trust

what allows me to 

            see, though we have passed the point

                        of no return, before the fruit

was on the vine, before 

            the chlorofluorocarbon's sweet ethereal 

                        odor was born and then 

barred. I'm not thinking 

            of the children when I jot 

                        down my fears. All fear is

is writing and all writing

            a form of fear. Don't 

                        twist too clever a phrase

you're not shaping the world 

            in anyone's image and there are 

                        nitrogen particles

that would sooner kill you 

            than make you stronger. So build 

                        a good, hot fire and read

a radioactive comic book because 

            it's Wednesday, my night alone 

                        with the kids and the darkness

is coming on outside, a stipple

            of light, let's call it tangerine. 

                        Not yours. Not mine. The children's 

hands are coming together 

            inconsistently shouting for more

                        of what I can give

I will give them

            what I can give

 About the Writer
Split Lip Magazine

Douglas Korb is the author of the prize-winning chapbook, The Cut Worm, and his poems have appeared in several magazines such as NOӦ Journal, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Tupelo Quarterly, Hobart, Versal, Barrelhouse, Spork, Redactions, RHINO, Poet Lore, and elsewhere. He is currently on the board of directors for the Collected Poets Series in Shelburne Falls, MA. His erasure art and other work can be found online at