Still Life

Once I pretended my body was a farm auction. My chest
the hay baler taking the pastor’s arm just for the climax.
This is a field where I swore I’d down any robin for making
notoriously good mothers. A garage where I learned
baseball from my father carving bats out of wings.
Not like other boys, I end a sky by humming murder
or mean my most diligent flock of wings. Do I worry
if hummingbirds sleep? I do. I don’t know.
It’s possible my heart can best be described as local.
Handcrafted. Invites over 17 different species to roost.
I try one method in coping: to heat coins over rails.
To scar thunder across my skin. Some days,
when my throat is the bottle of milk souring on the porch,
I contain the single note the radio is afraid to sing.


Tyler Kline is the author of the chapbook As Men Do Around Knives (ELJ Editions, 2016). His work has appeared or is forthcoming from Fourteen Hills, Passages North, Spoon River Poetry Review, Vinyl, and elsewhere. He currently teaches middle school English in Pennsylvania. Visit him online at