Issue > Poetry
Ryan Vine

Ryan Vine

Ryan Vine is the author of To Keep Him Hidden (Salmon, 2018), finalist for the May Swenson Prize, the New Issues Prize, the Crab Orchard Series, the MVP Prize from New Rivers Press and—selected by Robert Pinsky—the Dorset Prize. His chapbook Distant Engines (Backwaters Press, 2006) won a Weldon Kees Award and spent time on the Poetry Foundation’s contemporary best-seller list.


There were palm trees yes
in the sky dead fronds
hanging like huge hives
and sharp grass I chased
a black snake through to a bush
whose needly leaves stabbed
at my face as I grabbed it, leaving
tiny dots of blood. It's hard
to remember friend (really
who can?) but I think
I stared at my reflection
shirtless, white as a patient
in my Uncle Punk's front window
and I think it was then watching
the buttons of blood rise
and run down my face
that the boy in the blue shirt appeared
as though in a mirror beside me.
Hi I said. I'm from Minnesota.
We stood there a second

together in the window
listening to my parents

in the backyard pool splash
their yelps and whoops like pistols up

at the unbelievable Floridian sun
before the boy stepped back

and punched me in the nose.
I hadn't heard the stories yet.

I didn't know what to do.
I ran around the blurry house
to find my father
half licked with Uncle Punk
smoking beside the pool.
His belly was enormous
and hard and red.
He laughed
when he saw me.
What happened he said
and who did it?
He held his hand up
like he was talking a pledge.
Hit it
he said. How hard
can you hit it?

Good Company

When I walk through the snowy field
the day after
I walked through the snowy field
I step next to my first set of prints
so anyone who cares to can see
I was never alone.

In The Clearing

Leo steps from the woods
his tight blond curls lit
from behind by the sun
the aspen pollen falling
slow and puffy and white
like it's still snowing
in the middle of June.
Now the day's gone and
we're following fireflies
into the lake and the moon
lights the rippling water
around his little legs the moon
he says joyously the moon
is peeking through the trees
like a man with a flashlight
looking for something lost
for years in the bottom
of a boozy bag and I feel
that I've finally been found.


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