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Two poems by BEE LB

iron dream


once, iron mountain was a sign of escape. in the end,

it was only a road sign in the rearview.

eight years and so much distance.


ironwood yields heavier than water, though it’s not a name

to be relied on. the iron horse was once a term for steam engines,

my hometown once a tight lace of track. not my hometown but


a town i called mine homed a bar called the iron horse,

though i never went. another sign i passed without marking.


down here there’s a steel horse on woodward’s art avenue,

same woodward as the dream cruise but it’s not a dream.


the dream is the distance between one self, stuck in lake superior,

and the other self, stuck here on dry land. the dream is two

becoming one or else never having split in the first place.


in the dream i walk through my own footprints, follow my trail

back to a start i don’t remember. went to copper harbor, scoured

the mines, watched the great metal beasts as if they might breathe life


or coal smoke. felt like a dream but wasn’t. felt like stepping into a history

that lead to my own but i don’t know enough about it to say.


when ma was young she moved to nevada, lived in a trailer with her aunt

and uncle and all the cousins, played in the quarry the trailer sat in back of.


sometime before that in alabama or arkansas or maybe even kentucky

were the family miners, weak lungs, strong arms, rough hands.

details from the dream of knowing. my hands are soft, my arms are limp,


but weak lungs still run true. ma’s grappa died of emphysema before i was even

the start of a thought. my grandma died on the bathroom floor, window open

in winter. ma’s been smoking since she was twelve, hacks up half a lung regardless


of how many times she’s had to quit. big brother gets bronchitis

every year, little brother has an inhaler, i had pneumonia not long after i was born

and haven’t known how to breathe since.

july again


& the world is melting all around me.


pool of ice surrounding the glass. sherbert

or a runny yolk dripping down the horizon.


the lake’s edge receding each night.


i don’t pay my water bill

but i’ve started to wonder about its use.


i take it for granted living in the great lake state.


once had superior at the end of my drive

& gave it up for a few months of ocean,


then banish. now here i am with the dying

lake. trash lining what cannot be mistaken

for shore. i spent eight months trailing

with one bag & two gloves.


now my body cowers behind the doors.


the sun is having its way with all of us,

no more say in the matter.


what i wouldn’t do for my

fingertips to brine just once more.


the night slips in lacking the sound

of cicadas, replaced by electric hum


& i soak through myself, through my sheets

through my skin. this july so dry it could be

kindling but my body is wet enough


for the whole of us. i leave puddles of drool

& snot from the pouring over of myself &

i apologize only to an empty room.


the mirror stares back at me from across

the bed & i consider rearranging my entire life

to avoid the sight of my own rimmed eyes.


the ocean called to me from the haze of july.

hardly a cry of mourning

but that’s all i can hear. my grief clings to me


like a filthy film. the layer of sediment

growing on my neglected propagations.


we all could be clean if only i could tend

to the endless needs of a living thing.


we’re both moulding in the face of neglect.


i could go out on my balcony, look out at

the algae and liken a third dying thing.


instead i’ll stay naked in my soiled sheets,

count the days til i can next run my laundry

without paying.


count the days since i’ve felt the touch

of my shower faucet.

BEE LB is an array of letters, bound to impulse; a writer creating delicate connections. they have called any number of places home; currently, a single yellow wall in Michigan. they have been published in FOLIO, Figure 1, The Offing, and Harpur Palate, among others. their portfolio can be found at

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