Trio House Press
Publishing distinct voices in American poetry

What the Night Numbered by Bradford Tice


Winner of the 2014 Trio Award, selected by Peter Campion

Bradford Tice is the author of Rare Earth (New Rivers Press, 2013), which was named the winner of the 2011 Many Voices Project and a 2014 Debut-litzer finalist. His poetry and fiction have appeared in such periodicals as The Atlantic Monthly, North American Review, The American Scholar, Alaska Quarterly Review, Mississippi Review, Epoch, as well as in Best American Short Stories 2008. His poetry was also selected as the winner of Prairie Schooner’s 2009 Edward Stanley Award. He currently teaches at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln.

Psyche Incites a Riot

 

This I brought upon myself.

All of us, newly returned

from the edge of the underworld,

the body going under, but not the voice.

You know the story, the flags

of Fire Island hung at half-mast.

When the swine came, their boots

blackened, buckles spit-shined

until they flared under the naked

bulbs, it was us that were corralled.

No cowboys with their silver

guns, angel hands, were there

to keep the peace. Zazu, as she

is cuffed and led away, sings

“Hello Bluebird” and the girls

with their manhood tucked

and taped mouth the echo.

We are constituted by an absence

of voice, a lust for tenor. Grief

is the thickest of greases,

and what it covers is clay and steel,

graffiti, a faint penny taste

in our mouths. We have bitten

our tongues like raw mothers,

we have birthed ourselves, hemmed

by everything we have borne.

The veils have been pulled

from our faces, and we are

using them as shields.