My Second Work

Metaphysical in concern, hypermodern in tone, Bridget Lowe returns in this anticipated second collection, determined as ever to make meaning from the perversity of suffering. My Second Work is rare in its ability to be widely resonant, as Lowe transforms experiences of shame, disgust, and bewilderment into a kind of unexpected hope. The narrator exposes the ways our bodies, minds, and souls are formed—and deformed—by the work we do. No one, nothing, is spared in Lowe’s discerning assessment — even the moon must “manage her tides / for a life of unpaid overtime / before the final intervention.”

Reenactment

There will be simulated lightning
and a monologue of great sway,
a final admission of heartbreak.
There will be no stage. Denied that
too. I’ll hold a cardboard shield
covered in foil, thrust my elbow
outward with intent. It will be
a school night. There will be bleachers,
a modest audience, a concession
stand brimming with Twizzlers.
I will beg you to love me in a scary
public kind of way. Red stains
will start to show through my cloak.  
I so love the world, I can't let go of it.
I keep putting my face in it—
the crease in a pop-up book.
I slobber on the dimensional, I lick
the rough bark of that tree.
Someone will lose an eye.
Someone will lose both eyes.

The Unicorn in Captivity

Cold metal bowl of rainwater,
rusted leash attached to a stake
in the ground, I am grateful for
anything. Hello, my name is
Grateful For Anything. Hello,
my name is Missouri. Rottweiler.
There was no fence. Still, I stood
at the edge of something, looking
out. There were no visible
wounds. Still, something bled
and I couldn’t tend to it.
There was no fence, there was
no leash. Still, I stood at the edge
of something, looking out.
There was no blood, it was just
the juice, dripping from the fruit—
pomegranates—that hung
from the dirty trees and burst
and marked me in jerks from above.

And Now I Am Old, and Sad, and Prepared for Whatever Average Fortune Throws My Way

Head-sick, I bowed. And when I bowed the soul
quieted. The inland fires dimmed. Each time
I went low its awful pain retracted briefly. So I went.
Low, and then lower still. I believed I was a dancer,
bending ever downward just for it. The soul
remembers all of this. How I swept the floor
with my golden hair. How I fed it watermelon and
wine from a porcelain dish. How I called it “teacher”
and it called me “teacher’s pet.” I was so sick.
And yet its substance remained intact. It was so kind
to me. It sucked nectars from the raw air into
a tiny straw, and held that very straw up to my lips.
It was so brilliant, and compact. It rode me and I
rode it, as if for sport—a stricken magic we together
made from the intricate contents of my horror.
But then one day I woke up and the world had returned—
children walking to school beneath gargantuan
backpacks containing easy homework and deli meat
sandwiches. And beyond them, in the sunflower fields,
just darkened circles where the fires had been.

My Second Job

was at a dry cleaners                            straight up thief
I searched the pockets                        of working men

for dollar bills                                         stray pills

stole the buttons                                   off old lady’s sweaters
little anchors                                           gilded sailors

in silhouette                                            mermaids
 
lighthouses                                              a sea motif
on everything                                         I’d never seen

the sea                                                       I lived in Kansas

First thing each shift                          put my mix tape in
The Breeders’ Pod                                (Steve Albini)

Patti Smith                                              (her second record)

Pissing in a River                                    watching it rise
Kurt Cobain                                             Kate Bush

The hounds of love                                 are hunting

Once someone                                       dropped off
a Prada blazer                                        I took it out

of the protective plastic                     wore it while I ate

cheese pizza                                            used my sleeve
to wipe my mouth                                 alone in the back

by the steam machines                      spent a year

dressed like Sandra Bullock            in a rom com
circa 1995                                                  someone recovering

from head trauma                                amnesia


or falling in love                                     with their personal assistant
I was in love                                             with the cover

of Radio Ethiopia                                   Patti’s jumpsuit

how could I get                                       my hands
on one of those                                       in Kansas