By Jacob Schepers

The Creeping Gait

These old haunts get older
and pace from town to town,
glaciers receding, complete
with yards of unraked leaves,

curbside trash bins smelling
of broiled muskeye,
streetlamps and their burnt-out bulbs
These crippled haunts hobble

down dark alleys in which
they should not fit. They sleep
beneath newspaper blankets,
awaking early

to pounce on my back,
to dig in with their claws
and teeth
These places I carry with me,

or rather, they follow me home
They behave more often than not
like three-legged strays,
the hounds that they are


Warm Front

Having spent so long in this cold country
I find warmth in the most unexpected

places and far away from cities gone
nuclear. From whichever direction

these embraces come, this compass in my
pocket spurs me further on. Time and space

as we do at day’s end. I know what true
cold is; I know another heat too, how

I keep on freezing, thawing, and trusting
that heat in absence emanates from you.


Home Cooking

And by home
I mean no harm,

set us straight and cleared
our clout. We clung to the arms

of our rocking chairs, our stampede
of rocking chairs by which

we mean no harm, and stormed
the dinner table, the circus tent,

and paid admission for a hearty meal:
the greatest show on earth

Home cooking, fine wine, an elephant
standing on its hind legs

Our rocking chairs could barely take it
They grew jealous of the elephant,

heavy and appreciated by crowds
most unlike ourselves. At intermission

the trapeze artist fell to her death,
and we barely took notice

The main attraction was a rocking chair
with its tusks removed. Its ivory gone,

we demanded it be fried up
for our final course

Our rocking chairs were appalled
and felt the kindling heavy in our guts

A lifelong midwesterner, Jacob Schepers is the author of A Bundle of Careful Compromises (Outriders Poetry Project 2014). His manuscript Colder Country is a two-time finalist for the Antivenom Poetry Prize as well as the Annual Poetry Award from Elixir Press. With Sara Judy he edits the journal ballast, and he teaches at the University of Notre Dame. and @JacobSchepers.