Snail Trail Press

Ryan Bollenbach


Marshland                    I dreamt you
            In the eye bandage        On the growl-
Out      Spuming fungal

Bacterial body                Building itself

Engrossing planet 
            Piece me

Engorging planet             Fill me
            With black puzzles
Night-fever stings

Blood network 
           Blade me               Root me               Vein me
Your metallic smell          Into precious        Ores I can't destroy

Leaden sack break 
In the night’s core            By itself

           I came here to find
                       Trashed by light

           And let it multiply

I First Dream of Being

penetrated and penetrating 
outside the soft fingers
of smoke stacks.

In my lungs, I take my first chalky gulp
of the Earth’s blood.
The smell of metal
burns the ropes of my brain’s bridges
for the thoughts in my lobes—one from one, 
nature from not,
lust from the axe fall of progress—

down narrow chasms they walk
into narrower chasms,
no way to tell which tunnel getting smaller 
will collapse and cause the stroke.

Down this path: a single slit of light
flits a rainbow sheen on mushroom skin.
Down that path: a holding cell
with a door leading to a locked door 
leading to a brick wall.

I find myself
in the musty cavern air
folding into other others
cut at the seam
by the thin strand of light leaking 
from the quartz-crystal meat split 
in the cave wall’s weakest spot.

I am starting to understand
the language of the girders
trapped in the skyscrapers I once walked in.

How stuck in place
to be bathed in
that three o’clock light
licking my shoes made of leather.

Only now do I understand the bones of that metal playing 
their flutes made of siren and floodlight.

I thank them for their labor 
with my legs dangling
and a whistle made of reeds. 
I play them my blood’s song.

The Horror

I groped          A mirror
            In oak tree darkness

Today  Focused my eye
            On some unsung        Slow moving
Running river             In my crow’s feet 

Not a crag did babble a bubble
                         So silent that light was

And what I did see        Grated me 
            Aged cheese
The horror!      The horror! 
            Culturing me

Greened Inside Me

Greened inside me a copper-grown ringing 
early in my early years.

Humid afternoon lung tumor 
40,000 leaguing me

in a hot low-cut lawn
airsick breathing in my rusted diving suit antique.

A Rorschach of sweat stains 
in the pits of my black shirt.

My soft arm traced
the constellated light in the noon sun.

My attenuated fingers
cut every air to make a crystal pattern,

then I fell off the house’s siding 
climbing the wisteria.

Being grounded inside the smell of soil
I exorcised on the ground

with green breathing exercises. 
At mantis-eye level

I choked down the pollen
I carried on the lacerated rims of my nostrils.

I masked my fear 
with green smells

and the indifference cicada carved 
itself a gold shoreline

inside me
so I bent my knobbly knees

and sat by the anachronistic brook
by the black bushes behind the house.

Smell of mold at my boyhood desk, comfort me.
Come for me at dusk

like the dull smell of come in summer 
coating that thin tree’s wide leaves.

Experience’s abstract fur coats
the back of my throat, so I sip my tea.

Through the open mouth of my lonely window: 
hiss-pop percussion construction.

Into the mouth
blade-of-grass-shaped fingers of time reach.

A Name Is Only A Mask

A name             Is only a mask             Here 
Sleep is only     Sleep

Night ignition Not-named

A key              To open time’s peer

If you’re curious

Curiosity killed

The moon

Is an eye and the eye

Hare Architecture

Architecture      Of hare           Shape on monn    
A skeleton         A castle

Time burrowed
I tip my finger Into bone

A childlike curiosity
            Treble wind     Up my sleeve

A song I sang as a youth
   Slips the trees            In the humid woods

            Gonna waltz down 
            To the marsh
            For the possums 
            Gonna waltz down 
            For the snakes

1075 white eyes            Dark untraceable          Mouths
            Opening skyward

Daylight moonlight       Teeming low
             Its child-like voice       Whipping          Banjos

Hardly a child
Hardly a hare






Ryan Bollenbach is a writer with an MFA from the University of Alabama’s creative writing program where he formerly served as the poetry editor for Black Warrior Review. He reads for SweetLit and Heavy Feather Review. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Timber, Colorado Review, smoking glue gun and elsewhere. Find his tweets @SilentAsIAm, more writing @