Silver Bullet Day – Jill Mceldowney

CW: abuse


if you’re waiting for love to answer, wait

a little longer. your boyfriend will show up

late again, drunk,

spit in your face.

if you want the past to mean anything

            you have no choice. go—

back into that woods of rotting pianos

where your tracks lead you,

where you shot your doe.

you are called to that wreckage

by the wind stroking the piano keys for

‘My Old Kentucky

Home,’ come home. 

the night you pulled the trigger you thought horse

because you thought you saw a racehorse with a broken leg

eat your rifle fire—

shocked by pentobarbital,

thrashing through this swamp of blood.

and still

you don’t believe in fate—


you do—


you believe there is a reason

your father passed you his knife

the night you stood over the horse changed back to doe.

you believe there is no after

Kentucky. this far north you have no way

to pull a bullet back. no matter what

you do with your hands

they will always smell of blood

and sky

and the woods

where headless ghosts;

deer poached for their racks of bone, echo

time’s promise of no reply.

the empty answers your beg:


“dear God, I am actually speaking to you.”

here, the crows sing

                                     somebody’s gonna die

as your boyfriend drags you by the hair

to the darkening waterline.

you think of the first horse you ever owned

and the doe

brainstarred—struggling water

to a red foam.

you have held that animal as it dies.

mostly it takes—

like your boyfriend breaks

a mirror with his fist,

like how while you sleep—

believing time will repair you—

         he wipes his bleeding hand across your face.
Jill Mceldowney

Jill Mceldowney is the author of the chapbook “Airs Above Ground” (Finishing Line Press) as well as Kisses Over Babylon (dancing girl press). She is a co-founder and editor of Madhouse Press. She is also a recent National Poetry Series Finalist. Her previously published work has appeared in journals such as Muzzle, Vinyl, Prairie Schooner, Fugue and other notable publications.

1 Comment

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Garth Ferrantereply
January 28, 2019 at 4:45 AM

I love this piece!

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