Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

“Household Fire”

Gary L. McDowell is the author of Weeping at a Stranger’s Funeral (Dream Horse Press, 2014), American Amen (Dream Horse Press, 2010), and They Speak of Fruit (Cooper Dillon Books, 2009), and he is the co-editor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry (Rose Metal Press, 2010). His poems and lyric essays are forthcoming in The Nation, Prairie Schooner, Quarter After Eight, and others. McDowell lives in Antioch, Tennessee, and is an assistant professor of English at Belmont University in Nashville. “Household Fire” first appeared in The Chattahoochee Review..

Household Fire

My dad’s wedding ring
is in a box on my nightstand,


The shortest distance between hallelujah
and a tunnel

Trust the body, trust its pushing, trust and then push

My hands would be clean

I’m starving, and none of my costumes
are believable

My road runs parallel to the privacy of a mouse

The night before the song played
the same way every time

Tomorrow the bear commits to sleep

I heard a plane but didn’t see it,
saw a river but couldn’t hear it

Suppose this is true:

if a bird frightens a pregnant woman,
her child will be born

with wings instead of arms