Three Poems by Blaike Marshall


Originally appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of Poetry Quarterly

I dreamt I crucified my father in the garage.
Galvanized flesh to oak, a nail for the bottle
of pills taken all at once. Another for the son
she decided to keep, the rest for the days
we don’t discuss. The twin beams
conjoined at the torso, taller than I would ever
remember him, sang psalms that flipped
the flow of the Nile; waters running
red as always, with blood or wine, outlining
the delta in his palms. The air felt like the coast
before the hurricane, or an air after streets
have burned. And if a veil was torn, I didn’t hear it.
Resting in the plunging lump of his narrow neck—
an apology to me or himself, something we have
never shared. Between his outstretched arms hung
an air that felt like the only air I would breathe
from there on, an air that was always his.



Originally published in Issue 12 of The Adroit Journal

My grandmother planted herself
here among the arrowheads. She dug
her husband out of the marsh— hands
cupped as she washed him. They turned
metal siding into brick. Within the lilies,
she told me to let the earth stain my knees
black like the grease of my grandfather’s
plumbing hands. Now, she tells me
my hair is long, meaning: She misses
when I hid behind the couch, when I sat
devoted upon thrones of pillows, when my
ears shook at the sound of words that
made the seams of wallpaper yellow
and wrinkle, like the severed fingernails
I found below the chipped lip of the
dining room table. She raised me there
until I didn’t want to say grace anymore, until
I didn’t care about why she collected
all fifty license plates or what Alaska
looks like. I mow their yard in the summer,
corner dead leaves in the autumn. Now,
after the fall, she laughs as I clean her stitches
clear. Her Cherokee skin now white
as the filters I found wrapped in tinfoil
under the skirt of her chair. Often,
in my dreams, I break down her hospital bed
with the promise of stripping the screws.
And I wait, for her to stand, and cut the air.



A version of this poem is featured in Poetry Quarterly

Ankle-deep in lowcountry sewage,
adjusting the metrics of a rusted water

heater, the men of my family could sweat
the fever out of a house: jobs

Not exactly jobs: white lines bumped
off the steering wheels: dipping in and out of lanes and lines yellow

as the globs they hawk out the window
after a smoke—another snort and holler straight

from the gut like pistols drawn whenever  they pass
By houses with clothes on a line,

coming home, teeth as wide as a revelation
like dumb dogs with new bandanas–

steeltoing craters into the brick and vinyl
sided porch where they keep their liquor,

barking the same stories like men with no hope.
Sometimes, I wonder if ever they were to break

out of their thirst, would they break into mine,
make me small and heavy

wandering like someone who’s forgotten
to turn their blinkers off.




1428183654793Blaike Marshall is a senior in his hometown at the College of Charleston, where he is majoring in English and minoring in Creative Writing. His work was selected for the 2015 Adroit Prize for Poetry: Editor’s List, nominated for Best Undergraduate Writing in Plain China, and also appears in Poetry Quarterly. He refuses to acknowledge and confront his possible narcolepsy.