3 Poems by Jonathan Louis Duckworth


My father carries his silence around
as he would a dead bird—
by its limp neck

& plops it down on the empty seat
between us
when we sit down for dinner.

It is a snakeskin, only half-molted,
dragging on his heels
as he crosses the room slowly.

When I call him on the phone,
his silence holds the line
until my father wakes & answers.

I’ve fed it scraps through the years,
made it strong with each wordless drive
back from the movies or a deer hunt,

every night I’ve given him space
as he sits alone, drenched in the white
of the television.

But how do we talk of these things,
how do some conversations begin,
how to say to him “I know your silence

will outlive you.” Just as all our
silences will sprout like tubers
from the dirt of our graves.



There’s a tree on the hill
overlooking the house.

Its susurrating leaves
breathe rumor of a storm.

This is where I want to live—
forever in the moment
before disaster.



an autumn night
I go out for a walk

moon is low
melting like a candle

on naked branches
& on my body—
glistering second skin

when I find a place
as close to the edge
of everything

as to my home

I lie down in grass
brushing off beetles
set my ear to ground

& listen for the heaving
in the dark lungs
of the Earth


Jonathan Louis Duckworth is an MFA student at Florida International University and a reader for the Gulf Stream Magazine. His fiction, poetry, and non-fiction appears in or is forthcoming in New Ohio Review, Fourteen Hills, PANK Magazine, Thrice Fiction, Cha, Superstition Review, and elsewhere.


Elijah Tubbs