Three poems by Amanda Crum


I was craving something simple
So I went out and bought a bar of Ivory soap

It smells like being seven
In a decade before money

Trailer park baths at dusk
To wash away the grass-itch

From a young age I was a magpie
Attracted to the shine around the edges of things

But now I look for purity
Where I can find it

In the way the sky looks like a pearl
Just before the sun disappears

And the sound of a key
Turning the tumblers in a lock

Where before we overlooked
Now we pray for vision



Afternoon Rebellion In A Trailer Park

Far from any highway
a billboard erupts from weeds
and tempts us trailer folk.
It’s not what I wanted,
to climb that fence
and rebel,
but I do it to show
I’m a good sport
as God-light flickers
and breaks up the stratus.
Post-storm always smells
of damp blacktop
and secret things surfacing,
like the sudden knowledge
that something inside me
is thrumming. That field
is waiting golden and untamed,
a nameless thing crowding doubt
from the atmosphere. Is 9
too young for desire? The want
creates a push and pull, cotton-bud safety
and lovely, deckle-edged danger,
delicate balance like a ballerina en pointe,
muscles quivering in hushed and perfect
agony. The outside world awaits.


Cookie Cutters

I once watched the creation
of cookie cutters,

how they are rammed by metal rods
around a particular shape

to bend and succumb.
Always the supplicant, too afraid to ask

for something different.
What if they steeled themselves

like I never did
(jackknifed over the sink waiting for him to finish),

refusing to be pliant in favor of
their own future selves

and what they would have to live with?
Now when I think of that time

my mouth erupts with
gingerbread and sparks

and I wait to see
which one will keep me full.


Amanda Crum is a writer and artist whose work has appeared in publications such as Barren Magazine and Eastern Iowa Review and in several anthologies, including Beyond The Hill and Two Eyes Open. She is the author of two novels, The Fireman’s Daughter and Ghosts Of The Imperial. Her first chapbook of horror-inspired poetry, The Madness In Our Marrow, was shortlisted for a Bram Stoker Award nomination in 2015; her story “A Shimmer In The Parlor” was a finalist for the J.F. Powers Prize in Short Fiction in 2019. Amanda’s middle-grade fiction book, The Darkened Mirror, will be published in the summer of 2019 by Riversong Books. She currently lives in Kentucky with her husband and two children.

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