Robert Crisp

Shortwave Heartache

The way it came down the wire, I thought
all hope was lost— your voice telegraphed terror
and I received it in the dusty little room where
I receive all such messages, from the mundane
to the world-shattering, it didn’t matter which.
Your beacon was turned on permanently,
as was my receiver. It was a love/hate thing,
heavier on the hate, but there was love at first.

You’re somewhere in Texas now, breathing
in hot, clean air, breaking all the promises
you made back then to keep in touch and turn
to me when dangerous times came knocking
on the thin cage of your ribs and jacked your heart
dials past ten, when glowing-eyed rats began
chewing on your internal wiring, when daylight
emptied itself and let the darkness kiss your hard mouth.

I’m in the room, listening. You’re just not broadcasting 

The Great Radio Silence

The Great Radio Silence began after the Committee
on Decency and Moral Guidance gathered by Lake Ocho
that blistered, vengeful summer, the heat turning
the men into brick-red trolls and the women
into sweatier version of their sharp, harpy-selves.

In the hinterland, a girl dreamed of riding waves
of information into the black, stellar ocean—
an act that would also be forbidden had the Committee
the dark ability to clamp down on the mind and snuff
out futures and block the infusion of hope that still ran

like a current through the people, young and old alike,
whose radios sat like mute children on tables in living rooms
where everyone used to gather to hear what the world
sounded like when it sighed and laughed and loved
and lost and told itself that everything would be okay. 

The Toothy Teethy Sisters

You have toothy teeth, my sisters,
said the Thin Neck Man.

Collectively, they told him about the bloody field
where they’d dump his body, another murder in a long
line of esteemed, legendary (godly, even)
slayings, going all the way back to Big Daddy Cain,
who’d finally had enough of Abel, that whining little bitch.

Now you’ve offended our Ivory Grandmother!
quoth the Thin Neck Man.
And our Alabaster Mother!
Defile not the sacred scriptures!

The toothy teethy sisters bit him to death.
He screamed, but not quite enough,
so they brought him back and did it again.

After, as promised, they dragged his parts
to the bloody field and asked the moon’s blessing,
which she (being a sister, too) granted.

Their shadows trailed them back home,
back to warm beds and conversations,
to unions with snakes that only they understood. 

Robert Crisp currently hides out in Savannah, GA, where he teaches and keeps strange hours and stranger company. He writes poetry as often as he can.