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To Stand Upright

Especially days
when the heart I thought was true
unveils its abusive self. Another
abandoned animal,
another lunatic flea,
its ten-thousand orbits
around a matted coat
as my finger flicks rainwater
off my eyes’ dumb curbs. We must pity the dog
that doesn’t know better
than to expose this mangier self: so naked,
so alone, adrift 
on a disloyal sun. There are only so many times
a hand can reach out
and walk away with teethmarks, right?
I’m no junkie
bent over in the shadows, taking it
from behind for a silver fix
to stay the sturm of the current bardo.
Who needs the burn,
the cuff, the kick,
the tongue of bitter messages
singing me under another bus? I’ve got friends
to love me better, I’ve got 
a stranger in China I’ll never meet,
his words, the golden leash, long
as a continent 
stretch out to touch me
like rays from the hottest star,
the mere thought of which 
makes me smile
and gives my life real meaning.


In the Beginning, Somewhat Elevated          
It’s 7 AM, maybe
my eyes have opened

and you are everywhere.
I’m a gnarl, a knot,

an orb: heavy metal 
pin-balling down 

a road paved in gold. 

Accept me. I love the dawn. 
The sun is a sea 

I throw myself into, 
iced radiance 

panicking my breath 
clean out. Herodotus said

he knew the sick
by their dreams

until reason came
to poison the heart,

the surgeon’s scalpel 
finally unearthing 

its bloody whereabouts. 

Not me. 
I’ve been sleeping in a forest 

ever since you came around. 
I wander an irrational 

matrix, golem 
brothers singing out,

mistaking trunks
for snug caskets.  

I thread the interior 
and the whole green toy 

lights up, a mechanical quilt
that tilts

as I finger 
its bark facade. 

Some see the morning as a curse,
the first shards of light, 

a dropped spoon
down the gullet

of a drain. 

But I see the body 
rising from satin amnesia

becoming a fist, a fish
that swims

through darkness,
swallowing the stars.  


Michelle Bitting grew up near the Pacific Ocean and has work published or forthcoming in The American Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Narrative, diode, Rattle, the L. A. Weekly, Manor House Quarterly, and others. Poems have appeared on Poetry Daily and as the Weekly Feature on Verse Daily. Her book Good Friday Kiss won the DeNovo First Book Award, and Notes to the Beloved won the 2011 Sacramento Poetry Center Award and received a starred Kirkus Review. Michelle has taught poetry in the U.C.L.A. Extension Writer’s Program, at Twin Towers prison with a grant from Poets & Writers Magazine, and is proud to be an active California Poet in the Schools. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Pacific University, Oregon and recently commenced work on a PhD in Mythological Studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, actor Phil Abrams, and their two children. Visit her at: www.michellebitting.com.