Fission/The Deer/Some Nights I Dream of Utopia/A True Love Story/Upon Hearing My Estranged Uncle Committed Suicide/Highways/Lunacy by Nick Stanovick

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Separation is devoted to us

the third body at the altar

what stands in the corner when we make love,

watches as I choke her through the mattress.

After she comes, I don’t let go, beg her

stay stay stay

she hugs me back with airplane wings

and the acceptance letter on the bedside table sounds like the ocean

the new job grew legs and she won’t stop chasing it.  

When she leaves, I’m small as a whisper,

at war with the unfilled side of the bed

a gullible companion of shadows

Miming I miss you’s   

the Lover in me arthritic

our relationship corrosive as the endless waters between us

my igneous heart barely beats.

In a dying effort to feel her,

I put my headphones in

scroll to our already chosen wedding song,

click it

and again

but it doesn’t play.


The Deer

What’s she like? They ask.

I think of a winter night in Philadelphia,

the first time she drove my car.

A deer galloped on an awkward angle near the left rear wheel

its eye’s unnervingly wide.

It ran parallel to the car for a moment

then threw its muzzle into the left passenger door.

I tasted the iron in my mouth.

The back tire crunched its right legs.

It laid, crumpled and bleating,

hacking its two working hooves deliriously against the asphalt.

How absurd–

a deer in the 2 a.m. city

sprinting possessed at the car like metal to a magnet

Don’t you get it?

It was impossible.

What I’m saying is,

she’s an alchemy of chaos

an archive of inexplicable deaths.

Don’t you see?

She’s the place where things go unknowingly to die.

The deer had no choice

bewitched into suicide.

What’s she like? They beg.

I answer, she’s great, brilliant

and my nose starts bleeding.

They are staring, when one asks

Are you okay? Your eyes.

You look like a deer in headlights


Some Nights I Dream of Utopia

A room and all the dead have risen

my mother smiles wide as a prayer

every person i’ve wronged is a juror that chants not-guilty.

the poet writes me as the sunrise

my tongue is never in the wrong woman’s mouth

all the doors in the house are missing locks

the bathroom is not a slaughterhouse

the singer’s tears run upwards

while her boyfriend unbludgeons her mouth

here the locket fixed, here no thicket of nails, here I’m soft like a hug

my ex-lover’s eyes say forgiveness

my first roommate leaves the girl untouched

I have not run over the dog

I did not start the brawl

I have nothing to write about

here the unbent ring, here I kiss my father’s cheek

and every hurtful thing I said comes out as I love you


A True Love Story

And isn’t this how it always starts:

the rain comes and so do we,

both disciples of the sky or what lives above it,

a room filled with hands and hair and stale coffee,

love still splattered on the bed,

isn’t this the truth we’re seeking, isn’t this the life we all want to breathe in,

the toast still toasting, the eggs scrambled

And isn’t this how it always ends:

Love as an empty fridge

Love dried into salt

We pour some on the table and spell:


and say

let that be a new constitution, let’s write our signatures in blood or tears

but no,

the signatures written in ink, as they always are,

mine an indecipherable mess, yours a slender stalk,

a flamingo in summer, and hasn’t this relationship been on one leg,

trying to balance all this weight, the whole time?


Upon Hearing My Estranged Uncle Committed Suicide

and he did it at his mother’s house

dangling from the ceiling like a Christmas ornament

and isn’t that the loudest you’ve ever heard someone beg to be unborn?

Her house, the closest thing he could find to crawling back inside her womb

his life evaporating like a summer puddle

and can’t you hear her groceries hitting the ground when she got home,

the horror sprawling across her gentle face

that her son declared that day the apocalypse,

took his life & her home

with one small step.



The bible study teacher’s son is dead

19 and claimed by the highway.

I remember my first dead body

a bloodless boy blanketed in flowers and yankee caps.

I realized I offered my condolences to the wrong family

when they pulled his thrashing mother wrist-first through the cemetery gates,

Manic, she threw herself into the grave

to keep them from lowering the casket.

Carcrash boys terrify me,

remind me of Route 80’s torrent rain and hydroplane

and the pavement was no less hungry,

the ditch and semi played tug-o-war for the rites to my name.

After his funeral,

I slept with the bathroom light on for a month.

When I couldn’t stop seeing him on my futon

I drove to the crash site, an abandoned barn

and stood in front of the gaping hole

where the splintered wood heap lay dusted in glass.

A week later, his father burned that barn

drunk plump on grief and rage and Bourbon.

There’s no plan

just chance and physics.

Maybe that’s why the panic comes

abrupt and serrated, a bear-trap

because my car straightened.

I’m fat with dumb luck

and still, my foot is no less heavy.

The curves still come fast and murderous.

Part of me believes my casket’s already made somewhere.

There’s someone already sleeping

with their bathroom light on,

trying to rid their room of my death.



The glasses were the first to go,

dark rimmed, bold, and defiant.

I scratched out your eyes

and in their place, put two scarab beetles.

They remind me least of you.

I threw out the clothing,

the sweatpants from a lover not me

yet you always wore them.

The jacket that fit you too loose

you don’t like too tight, you don’t like trapped– I get it now.

I kept the stuffed dog

though it shall remain headless in the closet

and I kept the sheets,

though they have turned to sandpaper on my skin.

See, see how I nestle into them still?

See how I bleed for you?

I swallowed your hair

choked on each curl

gagged on the taste of flowers.

It sits now, in the furnace of me,

awaiting the fire.

Somewhere in Philadelphia,

a brunch table sits abandoned.

Window light shines on the cover of a little black book

beside it glares a plane ticket from El Paso.

Somewhere in Wales, your palace burns.

The flames, as royal as you were.

The smoke, as dark as me.


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Nick Stanovick is a graduate of Temple University, an alumni of Babel Poetry Collective, and a member of Temple University’s slam team that won the 2016 College Union Poetry Slam Invitational. His poems have been featured on Button Poetry and SlamFind. He is a lover of freezer pizza, Law & Order SVU, and laughing.


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