August 2021 Winner

Coal to Burn the World

Natascha Graham


I do not belong here.

I, do not belong

Belly down against flat earth I,

Splinter like sheet glass

beneath boots that crack my spine


I.          Do not belong.

I, a feather bed to my own head

My Own, very particular kind of madness

Lying here, on the ground

Life in my teeth, my mouth, my tongue


But still, I breathe

Still not choked after

All these

All these

All of these




One, after the other, after the next, after the next


Life. I see it now, stretched too thin with a punctured eye and I see it

How the weeping willow would watch the river bed should I drown

belly up, this time

Eyes like sea glass

Mouth like a fish


Try them all,

Try them all,

These ways to sink a ship, to skin a cat, to catch a mouse


To break a heart


Sink me, rock bottom,

Drown me, slowly,

Take the coins from my mind’s eye and sell my universe for coal to burn the world




But still, I will breathe

Because, I


Do not belong.