Kin, Sugar, Post Divide

by Molly Brodak


And ships appeared—

nearly not—

just wisps, iffy membranes.

Time’s whole hinge squawks privately:

she sees them and the island changes hands.

Petrels shriek and break time, shriek and break.

Some city approaches out of the waves,

she chided herself, surely not. The foam of fronds bristled shoreward, attending,

hi! the flesh of the story, the actual men, come to sow their bottomless delusion.

She rises, dusts her knees, a black fruit drops in her trunk as if snipped. Quaking thunderhead. At night, beach peeled away in wind.

She dreamed the continent was measured in knives.

The ships grew.

Cells comb cells but never touch.

A boot floats on skeletal coast.

Tubs of ship biscuit parade ashore

flanked by blackrats and nude amens.

Fog walled them away from the banks of unchristian trees,

flag drooping with repellant electrons, this their moment, a bit weak. Processing a sunnier thrust, the priest scribbles. Time made into a fence. That’s storytelling.

Poor and simple the past isn’t. Nor are

we those thugs. The beach powders the conquistadors,

a dirty papoose, a rill rising to sun, the key banner, they point their black alabaster branches, this their moment

have they fumbled by not shooting.

Our hosts, I’m told they can’t imagine me.

They stand forever before the gulf.

They go into the gulf.

Stand, they stand across from unrecognizable kin

who came

in quiet possession

it was written


A lady stabs a silver nail into the sugar. Up close the sack fumes an almost human smell.

Upward tremor. It’s so nice, just some

for tea, trembles,

the dainty cates, marchpanes, flighty sauces, chocoulates sap in circuits, a little pain. Blue lace

knots across the window in a noose, porcelain shivers. Ocean paths land here. Our terrorists rib-deep in a south Georgia fen, sunk in armor or wet lead cotton coats: her snug manor is their packed pocket. The teen sinks.

She lets the teen sink. Passes fetters in shop windows. In the Lord’s hands, she has none of her own,

a mere— buyer, eater.


Sand flats wiggle like the cove.

Stooped to read gross figures and desperate gestures on the rock face. Hybrids, everything in this country is a chipper mash of God’s hoard.

A sweet yellow toffee shored up in nooks— and I ate but now sick. Crystallized packrat urine, gems.

Thing, person, scape, beast, to use. As if the goal,

as if the goal was to never reach the goal.

Sand scoots helplessly. When we killed—

when slaves kill their owners first they take and put,

put on the hats and pants of the dead.

After a thousand years maybe they take off these hats. In my life, this is the only hat.

Mess, sugar. There’s a word for that and I don’t care what it is. A thousand proof, the whiteness

of the plateau, the tract, the veil, the goal, the going—

farm, church, wet meat, songs. They just do not love you back. They just do not.

Then a past thing does not stay in the past and it is mistaken for something special. Civilization is made in little minutes, in the dark. Some gets

shook out.

Both witless rock peak and wet gully dumped with antique trash.

Both tundra and prison.

Both tree and axe handle of wood.

Both nacre and poke, both love.

Both whole me and vow.

Molly Brodak

Molly Brodak is the author of A Little Middle of the Night (U of Iowa Press, 2010) and three chapbooks of poetry. Her memoir, Bandit, is forthcoming from Grove/Atlantic in 2016.