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3 Poems by Jacob Stovall

Portrait Of A Tuberculosis Culture

Illuminated by glowing dye,

Bacteria pearl and bloom

Like wildflowers in winter

From chapped earth.

The disease, in floral smears,

Like an impressionist’s after-pallet,

Lines lungs like baby’s breath,

Hangs like the despondent foxtails of


Beneath the slide, magnified

And quivering with light,

Life teems with glimmering desperation,

Prepared to kill to survive.

Finding its way into shared air,

Shading sight, casting life in

Bare light.

Fragile in the way that a dandelion is fragile:

Begging to be broken apart just so

It can spread.


there is still air

There is still evening

and places to sit:

still chairs, and if not, still ground.

A still ringing tone:

there is still a stone ring,

a fire to sit around.

There are still places to sit

and time to sit

in the still evening air

Even if the garden is halved,

there’s still the deep of the woods,

the woods that are still there.




Water and salt,

Sugar in blood, insatiable thirst;

Dredging the lake,

Dreading the worst:

The wait, the weight.

I haven’t eaten and I’m seeing visions: a beast

With the head of a man

And the body of a man.

Some things repeat,

Run through my blood:

Golden chalices, tin cans, plastic bottles,

Sugar water, white vinegar,

Anarchist literature in the back next to the Narcan.

If I want to be allowed back into the world

I’ll have to allow it back into me.

Stop swallowing death so readily.

In a few years I may be begging for my life online,

Unable to pay that much for such and such

A drug, sugar in my blood.

Too much salt. Not enough salt. The wrong kind of salt.

That which I’ve become a pillar of,

I’ll take and consecrate with it the ground

Beneath my burning body.


Jacob Stovall is a writer from Nashville, sort of. His work has been published in Sobotaka Lit, Juked, The Journal of American Language, Expat Lit, The Belmont Literary Journal, and is forthcoming in the American Book Review. He is the author of the chapbook "Republic of Gum" and the host of Vow of Silence, a combination readings series and noise art showcase.

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