Issue > Poetry
Michael Chitwood

Michael Chitwood

Michael Chitwood has published eight collections of poetry and two books of prose. His work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New Republic, Poetry, Threepenny Review and numerous other journals. Next year, LSU Press will publish his new book, Search & Rescue.

Oath


He was good at God-damning,
swell at giving hell,

which is, admittedly, easier
than giving heaven,

but to be really good at it
takes practice,

a churning choice of words
that must be angrily controlled,

no mean feat that,
and pronounced in heat

but not shouted,
as the tempered tone

makes it all the more hammering
and so much more so cursed

than blessed could ever be.
 

With the Body


It was her wish,
in the old tradition,
that someone sit up
with the body,

so it wouldn't be alone
when most alone.

But maybe that's not right,
maybe that's when most present,
the still, rigid bolt of it there,
a charge to the living.

No way to know
in those silent, deep hours.

Not a job for kin.

Congregants,
who'd seen her mostly once a week,

came in two-hour shifts,
splitting up the night
as was her wish
to keep the body company,

the body's desire
through the very quiet night.
 

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