Three Poems by Lana K. W. Austin

Riding In the Back of a Truck with Willie Nelson

He’s not loud at first, just hums
a bit, then a few words 
with that voice of his, only 
one like it, hummingbirds
fluttering in every note,
and I point to his voice box,
and he smiles and winks so I know 
it’s okay for me to touch
it and I can feel the vibrations, or
maybe it’s oscillations, and I think
of math, how someone told me
that God created the universe
with math and that’s what music
is, pure math, that’s what’s in Willie
and his voice box, so I say,
“Oscillate, baby, oscillate,”
and don’t you know it, he does
and then Willie, and this is
why we love him, ‘cause he’s 
all of us, sings louder
and his voice doubles
and there are more people
suddenly in the back of the truck
and we’re all singing,
we’re all vibrating, the whole
truck’s oscillating and, because
this is a dream, this is the dream,
we sing until we lift right on up 
off the road.

Inside My Wild Heart

Inside my wild heart 
lives a song unable 
to unsing itself—I 
can’t bear to name it—
and it sings in a harmony 
split, not broken, holding 
two opposites entwined,  
like DNA strands linked,
one strand unrelenting 
in its joy, in its raw light,
while the dark strand 
demands to be named
a midnight grief, yet 
both seamlessly braided 
together within me 
and all over me, too, 
shimmer and shadow 
humming alive 
on my skin. 

I Walk Through the Field

I walk through the field 
of memory, past the barn 
where my father is whole 
again and I stop by the fence
to watch my horse, she is 
every horse I've ever known, 
and I am pulled into the deep
of her until her tail starts
to conduct a symphony
she’s so happy to see me 
and I know her mystery hums
in my bones, but I leave her
to walk down the hill where, 
because it's November, the frost 
has pewtered the ground 
beneath me to the point
where every step I make 
splinters the grass that 
in the light becomes 
a million intricate ice caves 
until I reach the familiar 
imprints my knees leave 
by the pond, where I go 
to ask for forgiveness, 
to curse, to beg to be
the one who still believes
when the mist that is neither 
light nor dark, but is the color 
of the ash upon my forehead, 
hovers above the water 
until it suddenly swirls,
like the tornado that tore 
down our neighbor’s house, 
and just as quickly as it sped 
up it slows down, caressing 
the top of the pond.

Lana K. W. Austin, born and raised in rural Kentucky, is a poet and writer whose work has recently been featured in Mid-American Review, Sou’wester, The Chariton Review, Appalachian Heritage, Columbia Journal, Zone 3, and The Pinch. Her full-length poetry collection, Blood Harmony, is from Iris Press (2018). Austin, the winner in the poetry category of the 2018 Words and Music Writing Competition, and a Judge's Choice winner in Still: The Journal's 2018 Fiction Contest, is an adjunct instructor in the English Department at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. 

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