Travis Wayne Denton

                    Stringing You Along | Mike Stilkey

                   Stringing You Along | Mike Stilkey

Love and the Moon


Her breath changed as she looked out over the landscape.
A bead of sweat hit her lip—I saw it through her helmet’s shield,
As she stood beside the first print ever on the moon and flag
That said people like us had been here, but not us. Mons Agnes,
Lacus Deloris, Terra Vitae—as we passed all the sights,
We imagined the Dark Side with its endless night
And how lovers, eschewing morning, must have willed
It always just near dawn. Looking out, a cloudless night
And happy to be touring, we, our own postcard,
Beamed pictures home. With every bump and nudge,
Of the lunar plain, her hand tightened around my inner thigh.
She asked, what would it be like at zero gravity, I mean,
If we could slip off our suits, the hundred layers
Of space-age fiber between us, if I could touch
You like I want to, if only through this quarter inch
Of glass our lips could tease the softness of immortality
Out of the other, in this place with no season, no breeze,
Where we’ll never feel not feeling it at all.




We wrapped eggs in Styrofoam peanuts,
Boxed them in newsprint,
A worn t-shirt, and on Teacher’s count,
Tossed them from the roof of the building
As lightly as I’ve come to know, too late
Entering a room where a lover is sleeping,
After my own returning
From another lover’s bed—
My own heart still in that box,
Jolted at every snore and sigh,
Yet wanting
To smash a chandelier, sweep perfume
Bottles from the dresser, trip over a shoe.


When we painted landscapes, Teacher told us to think
How the slope of the slide on the playground
Is like the slope of the hill to the lower field.
I thought it like the slope of her breasts.
We were told to notice how sunlight slants across it all,
That we’d soon need all we could get,
To breathe it in, wish for only sun—
Caught in a many-sided shadow,
Night’s dense fog baffling the exits.


When Teacher laid cardboard squares
On our desks, told us if we were
Careful, that, and luck would save our eyes,
We matched her folds exactly
Because our sight depended on it,
Ripped duct tape like picking scabs.
But for the next 7.5 minutes we’d practice
The light dimming, the night coming, going.
We stepped into the eclipse
Single file—the moon and sun
Aligned in syzygy—told if we looked up
Our retinas would burn out
Of our heads, cause sparks in our brains,
And our mothers’ faces would be the first to go,
The soft blue of the sky would always be beyond us,
Our siblings, a thump to the cheek.
As it went dark, the sun wreathed in a purple bruise,
We pulled on our helmets, looked out
Through a dot which let in a pin-sized ray,
That resembled, as we were instructed,
All we’d come to know of grace.

Waking a Sleeping Limb


She understands you can’t poke
Such a thing and whisper—
There’s no ear to yell into or kiss.
It flops in the negative
Space of her body’s curve while a glass
From last night loses its fizz.
The arm lays there like fog covering
A city park bench and slide.
She must wait, crouched
In the rushes of midnight,
Patient as a sniper, or better yet,
Like the man at the bar who hasn't taken
A woman home in a long time—
A man who loathes his computer
For its dog-like companionship.
She rolls to her back, lifts
The limb with her good arm
And places it across her chest, then,
For a moment, holds the dead hand,
And it feels like another's hand
That has reached out to pay her
Some endearment or respect.
The lights of a city bus moan
On her ceiling, and just then,
The way an idea snakes into the mind
Or a visitor enters an empty room
And soaks into the emptiness,
Waits to fill the emptiness
With creak, voice or song,
There's a pin-prick at her pointer,
An ant stops cold on her outside palm.
She clenches a fist and muscle
Memory returns.
The arm lifts and curls
The way it has before—
Wrapped around another
Or standing arm in arm,
That cold thing, the limb,
Like a man catching fire.



Travis Wayne Denton lives in Atlanta where he is the Associate Director of Poetry @ TECH as well as a McEver Chair in Poetry at Georgia Tech. He is also founding editor of the literary arts publication, Terminus Magazine. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, magazines and anthologies, such as Five Points, Ghost Town, MEAD: a magazine of literature and libations, The Atlanta Review, The Greensboro Review, Washington Square, Forklift, Rattle, Tygerburning, Birmingham Poetry Review, and the Cortland Review. His second collection of poems, When Pianos Fall from the Sky, was published in October 2012 by Marick Press.