smiling here to erie


too bad there isn’t such a thing as

conservation of grief


the chemicals only spread

the ache only keeps opening its hands


take this—until you’re ash and then

regenerate tenderness again again


supplies are endless spinal addendums

to what my pestilence once called


church, a chiming arrest of the cardiac

a frank i see you moon to moon


in the howling house the black bears

share with our particular


feral carelessness i met you

on the steps


and don’t pretend you don’t remember

what happened next






take the book collection, drink the liquor cabinet


my grandmother was an anvil

shag carpet sanctified by ashes

a bowl of cherries in rheumatic hands


thank you for holding

how may i direct your not at all?

nary a salve for what colludes here in the dark:



a meticulously organized hoarder

heirlooms putting down roots in nursing home desk drawers


when we cleaned out her two-story condo

i bagged all the classic novels

a brave new world of marooned fly lords and mockingbirds


and my sister and i sampled whiskey, gin, kahlua, crème de menthe

i didn’t know how a hangover felt

but the next day, i found out


chuck taylors dragging on the cul-de-sac cement

i said i was crying from the headache—true in part, i admit

but what i really meant can only be spoken by poison flowers in the amazonian jungle


i’d pressed my flesh against every wood panel

who would remember my personhood across time without them?

seven swallows flying past the u-haul window, that’s who


and all those bound and boiling leaves

packed up in boxes in my brain

about to brew






lakeside reactor
for Jason Palmer


this part of the country is an abandoned nursery full of fermenting fruit

sentimental in a deathbed sense, the nuclear plant stands at a distance

i wouldn’t call “safe,” but it’s something, while mount baldy, biggest dune

of them all, swallows little boys whole—even ghost towns have graves

we hang out sprawled along the center of the state highway, each

of our bodies a yellow line signaling different directions—don’t cross

unless you’re prepared to collide. beachside we climb up the lifeguard

tower and pass cheap beer and swedish fish back and forth like

delinquent kids—an argument could be made people never grow

out of this, just get paid to stay away, say things like, “i would call

in sick, but there’s a 50/50 chance of rain.” ok, ok. but isn’t it comic?

water keeping you from water. and all those eons we craned

sunburnt necks, reckoning that silver silo to be the spot of untold

castings off, cauldron where all the world’s clouds first formed from the dust





Editors’ Note: These poems first appeared in Nine Mile Magazine, Volume 5, No. 2



Dylan Krieger is a repository of high hopes from hell in south Louisiana. She collects your lips mid-sentence and sews them to all the other lips of the world. She earned her BA in English and philosophy from the University of Notre Dame and her MFA in creative writing from Louisiana State University before getting body-snatched by the private sector. She is also the author of Giving Godhead (Delete, 2017), dreamland trash (Saint Julian, 2018), No Ledge Left to Love (Ping Pong, 2018), and The Mother Wart (Vegetarian Alcoholic, 2019). Find her at


My writing has long betrayed a personal fascination with faith and doubt, not only in relation to religion and mythology, but also — more recently — the unarticulated beliefs and convictions we develop early in life that may or may not find validation in the more widely held worldviews of our cultures.

Particularly in The Scar Tour (69 pp.) — from which the poems included here are drawn — I wanted to turn away from the hard-nosed skepticism about religion, philosophy, and mythology that peppers my previous projects, and focus instead on those hopeful beliefs formed in childhood one can’t help but still feel sentimental about. While “smiling here to erie,” for example, tackles the ebb and flow of romantic hope and disappointment, “take the book collection…” recalls the revelation of discovering my grandmother’s collection of classic novels amidst her slow descent into Alzheimer’s, and “lakeside reactor” plays upon a surreal childhood belief of a dear friend of mine: that the nuclear reactor outside our hometown was the place all clouds were made.

I compiled The Scar Tour just last year (2018), while coming to terms with what ideals, if any, I myself still believe in, what sentiments aren’t yet sediment, after taking account of certain scars and their authors, after railing against dogma for as long as no one knows. If it’s true (and it is) that I’m hooked on writing about mythologies, The Scar Tour is about taking stock of my own. For, whether “true” or not, self-made mythologies, I believe, are worth explicating. Perhaps that’s one of the few ideals I have left.