Ian Powell-Palm




White crosses: scattered across the highway: 


Puncture wounds in God’s vision: driving this state: 


Is like uprooting a graveyard: and after the highway has taken what it came for:


The woman cradles her daughter: recovered from the shattered jaw


Of a Pegasus: all teeth and broken wing: as if her body is another syllable


God can no longer pronounce: gripping her tongue: she carves the meat


Into a violin:  Sonatas through her sobs for the children


This state has changed: Tell them that in the corners: Of this beauty lurks the bones of my


Mother: and the children she will never meet: Boys who will never walk again


Despite their faith: Tell them that my family lines these mountains, their crosses spitting


Out directions to nowhere.






80 down main street, the vodka


                bleeding through both our hands


like water, she flips the car


because the police have reached us


 too quickly, and the road beneath


is already calling our names, like a child,


admitting that its known


how to claim our lives, all this time, like it did my sister,


or my brother when his knees shattered


against the dashboard, 23 in Wisconsin,


the pickup truck crashing through him


                like a father


and you might ask, so what? Kids die in cars all across America, 


but at least Montanans acknowledge it, at least we fashion


a cross from what’s left of our hands and mark where our bodies


left us.


when the car flipped, my sister’s body flashing like a vision


before my eyes


I bound my face in a white sheet, let the men carry me back


from sight


back from the boy mangled on the stretcher


calling for his mother.


his body, limp


like a prayer we’ve all heard before.






Long down that backroad of throat: was a country, on the other side of language:


I could see Marie’s body there, a slab of meat on the morgue’s metal. Her breasts


Two shut eyes, purpled with knots.


 I tried to scream: But my voice had been crushed into music: ‘that’s my city, what have you


Done to her-’: I cried, but the women, and the men who had once been women,


Held me back, all of us watching


As the flames gnawed through every living thing in sight.






Then, I saw it.


At the end of my family’s dying really was a field.


 Beside its stream, Mother and I prepared a fire


For our daughter’s body, Marie’s cross clenched between us


Like a chokehold. When Father returned from beating in cars


In the junkyard, his hands shredded to bone, mouth glistening


Like an axe wound, we fashioned a blanket from his hip


And laid it down softly. A white sheet across our eyes 


We willed her back to living, our daughter’s spirit 


Breaking furiously into flesh. Tracing her rib,


Jutting and large, its sharpness drew blood. 


We then touched our gutted eyes, wet with the sunshine,


Wet with Marie’s tears. All of us,


So lost in our joy that we refused to acknowledge


The reasons


We couldn’t stop shaking




Ian Powell-Palm is a writer, poet, and musician currently living in Belgrade, Montana. His work attempts to interrogate familial trauma, sexual identity, and the resurrection of the dead. You can read more of his poetry on Facebook at ‘Powell-Palm Poetry’.