Thirteen Ways of Looking at Binaries by Jennifer Luckenbill


The crows are leaves in bare trees,
black smudges
against sanded winter skies.


They draw geographical lines
around us like fences
like walls like mountains like…


Questions asked by mouths and eyes
are benched by beaks tucked under feathers.


From birth, it’s pink or blue,
bows or camo, dolls or cars,
step right up, the choice
has been made for you, M, F.


One beak turns,
black eye accuses,
why do you like our poems best?


My skin is a free pass,
possesses all the right
traveling documents,
you don’t need to look it up,
just let me in.


…like imaginary lines
that mean you can love here,
but you can be fired there, a mile over,
for the same


My words are like ocean caves,
lost in high tides. I do not know
what words will calm crows
who stare too long
who hold still the life of a tree.


two football teams, facing off
two parties, facing off


I do not know what words
will ask the leaves to grow.


there are times when
this body feels
all wrong,
lumped and padded,
bumbling, tired
knees wondering
when they’ll
get a break.


We draw lines around
ourselves, put up barbed wire,
the illusion of sanctuary.


I only have these words,
small pebbles
falling from my hands.


Jennifer Luckenbill

I am a freelance editor and writer who lives in Oklahoma City. I have two master’s degrees, one in feminist theory and literature and one in library science. I have been published in journals such as Poetry Breakfast, Poetry Quarterly, Mused, GlassFire Magazine, Black Heart Magazine, Night Industry, and The Long Islander. My work was featured in an anthology, Entrances and Exits, published in 2013 by PegLeg Publishing. My story “Roar: A Trio of Shorts” was a finalist for Sundress Best of the Net Anthology for 2013.