Purgatorio, East Peoria

Again, the man in the window
wakes from a dream of June bugs:
fragile with heat, they’d thrown
their bodies into trees and split
like skulls. The man said he was
hungry. The sisters still arrive
some evenings with their Bibles
and a roll of toilet paper.
they’ll bring fruit salad which he
eats slowly, exploring every grape
and melon ball for the tiny spiders
he sees there, drowned in poison
syrup. Or kiss his eyes. He tries
to choose. He knows that it can
hurt, that prayers can burst from
the mouth. Inside is both of us.


todd smith photoTodd Smith’s poems are forthcoming in North American Review, Prairie Schooner, Barrow Street, Crab Orchard Review, and elsewhere. He received Frontier Poetry’s 2017 Award for New Poets, and was a finalist for the North American Review’s 2019 James Hearst Poetry Prize. A valuation actuary by profession, he lives in West Des Moines, Iowa with his partner, poet Heather Derr-Smith; and their three children. He’s online at toddsmithpoet.com and Twitter @nipponhamz

Featured photo credit: Amanda Ollinik @Allunderonemoon