Four Poems by Lie Ford

And God Said, Party's Over, Go Home

Where do we go?

The magnolia by the chapel blooms

too early this year, has been bursting

   with a hundred purple fingers,

that sun of mine shining still

         like she doesn’t even notice.

           Please, I was born into this.

There are very few promises. Death is not one.

Not really, not when it’s a Trojan horse

for more life, each over-sweet corpse 

                  writhing with a thriving colony of baby

maggots. We were not supposed to die

with any finality. I change my mind:

   in reality, there’s just one promise—

         The magnolia tree 

                   is surprised by a sudden frost.

It sucks her petals brown,

 licks up her trunk with its 

   cold, spring-drunk tongue—

Listen: please don’t make us leave yet. 

There is only one promise.

 It’s the closed buds clinging still,

  the small lives housed inside them,

Kentucky’s pollen haze spring, it’s sprawling hills and—


  I wore a T-shirt this January and


          forgive me, I enjoyed it, arms exposed

          to the warm air. 

Tenderly, I cradle a bud 

  against my finger pads.

   And, wet as a dead cat,

it sags in my touch, hangs, 

  like a rotted, failing cocoon

   from the gallows of the magnolia.


Surviving Nihilism

Someone says to me to live,

        really, is to slowly die. We practice

for it every night. It is March:

the sun is just rising, cradled 

so softly by the mountains,

reproducing itself everywhere,

small stars caught in the 

sparkling bodies of passing cars,

dazzling off the store windows

I walk by, and I catch

myself, warm and pink-tipped,

glittering in the windowpanes. 

And the robins, white-eyed,

are glowing from the inside

of their fat orange bellies

while they sip the puddles

of last night’s drizzle. So be it—

let sleep be a series 

of small, nightly deaths. 

It is a yellow Monday morning,

and I have come alive again.


Ghazal for the Eldest Girl

You’re born by breaking her in half and seen for that first time. A breath
spills the name you’ll forget. So, the breadth of you: a low, sleepy breath.

You’re three years old. Or maybe you’re four, in a pink gingham dress,
and you’re hearing these three things: his throw, her scream, your breath.

You’re changing diapers before you’re even weaned. Come on now, kiddo,
grow up. You should know by now crying won’t clean out your milk breath. 

You’re a lesbian in the Bible belt. Under the bobbing stream of Dolly’s 
Jolene, two sweet girls denouncing God, a frenzied flow of teen breath. 

Starvation is what’s done to you and hunger’s what you do with it. Eldest
girl, bare your teeth and eat it all. Leave and live, grow a greed for breath. 

You’re quiet cause you learned early to keep your name tucked between 
your breasts. You think to say it. But first, a test: first, a slow, deep breath. 


Supermarket Rapture

I am in my final hour

of work, praying

the cracks of thunder 

splitting silver cuts 

through the thick July heat

will possibly pellet rain

onto the skylights. 

Everybody’s home


and they are here, 

cold under the yellow 

bulb glow, working me 

to the bone.

An old woman catches me

in two taxidermy bird eyes,

struts up holding the clouds

inside a photograph pinched 

in her spider fingers,

a crucifix swinging off

the cliff of her clavicle. 

Another who has come

to tell me of the end,

my role in it. 

She asks if I believe 

in Jesus, and I lie

to keep her stones

in her pocket. She lifts

the photo, her burden 

of proof. 

Here are His eyes, she says. 

And here, His mouth.

Do you see?

I could not afford to eat today.

I am too tired to see God. 

Lie Ford
is a creative writing and English student at Berea College. Born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, they are a poet who revels in the disgusting, and their work often explores how writing can siphon a sense of beauty out of the trash and grime of their world.