All It Takes
Those creek turnings ribboned upon the hills long before nearing our farmhouse, those years as I traced a net of electricity strung between telephone poles, there, upon the region in the later decades yet even then, an unfamiliar memory to many neighbors. Like the horse who lived roadside, old in appearance as hewn from a coal-filled mountain, who had pulled a wagon of poles as workers pocked the hills with each row. When our car drew closer, the horse’s eyes looked like dark glass bulbs, his coat peeling into summer. The day I discovered his field nosed empty all but for starlings tossing their beaks through grass, a grieving in me kicked as I imagined the horse, if he had untangled his knees from the barbed wire and perhaps shuffled to a river’s nearby elbow. I can see him even now, standing there in my mind, belly filled and leaning toward some breathing destination.
How to Skip a Stone
Find a flat heft, then crouch and send it level, spinning across the waiting water. Let its roughest corner be the last to leave your index finger. Carry your arm through, until your waist twists. Keep your eyes where you’d like it to go—even the muddiest line, if thrown with gusto, can curve. I spent hours thumbing through the soil that summer, the same summer I woke and the bugs in my mason jar had turned crisp, legs upturned like spears. How sometimes what I’d found, I couldn’t set it free.
a handful of leaves
offered into the mail slot
of a church’s door
Daniel Lassell is the author of Spit (Wheelbarrow Books, 2021), which won the 2020 Wheelbarrow Books Poetry Prize, the 2022 Midwest Book Awards for a poetry debut, and the 2021-22 Reader Views’ Gold Award and Inside Scoop Live Award for the Most Innovative Book of Poetry. Spit was also shortlisted for the 2021 International Book Awards, the 2021 Best Book Awards, the 2022 Eric Hoffer First Horizon Award, the 2022 Eric Hoffer Book Awards Grand Prize, and the 2022 Sheila Margaret Motton Book Prize. He is also the author of two chapbooks: Ad Spot (Ethel Zine & Micro Press, 2021), which received an honorable mention for the 2022 Eric Hoffer Book Awards, and The Emptying Earth (Madhouse Press, 2023). He grew up in Kentucky, where he raised llamas and alpacas, and now lives in Bloomington, Indiana.