Three Poems by Kristina Marie Darling and Carol Guess


The Buyer’s Wish is Your Command

You’re still the man I married; the picket fence hasn’t changed you. They say that a marriage is as good as the sacrifices we make. What have you given up but a few threadbare suits, the worn out soles on your patent leather shoes? You’ve always been a salesman, dressed for business, ready to close the deal. But you sold me a timeshare and I’m not paying more than once. My credit cards are maxed and it’s no one’s fault but yours. So go ahead, bring home a man if you think that’ll buy us another fresh start. He can show you how someone negotiates a commission, and I’ll show you how the down payment gets made.


Create A Dramatic Entry

Two men stand knocking on the door of a house. Both men are me. One bruises his fist. Inside the house three kids and their mom stuff belongings in plastic, drag the bags to the door. In one life, the man steps aside for police, who break down the door, drag the kids to the corner. Clothing withers among flowers and fruit trees. I step over their life, stage the house in pastels. Two men stand knocking on the door of a house. Behind me ten others, ten more on the lawn. We occupy rooms. We lock arms and stage vigils. The bank gives way, retracts, retreats. Two men in your life at the door to one house. Fist poised to batter or fist raised in action? Today in the rain I walked to the office. The picket line snaked through our manicured lawn.


Know When to Close the Deal

You’ve been sleepwalking again. I answer the door in my housedress, then turn back when I see the crowd. You can stage midnight vigils, but what’s left to protest? The house has flooded, burned, and been repossessed again and again. There’s nothing here but a few pillars near the entrance, a white marble statue in the hall. I walk back through a ruined foyer, into a life that’s been trampled by its many spectators, and I sink into bed alone. You’re still lighting candles, waiting for the bank to cut you one last deal. Tomorrow I’ll be on the road to Boston, a divorcĂ©e in a new city, waking in a room with a new view. You’ll see me drive away, past strip clubs, motels, the church where we married. You’ll wonder where all your money has gone.



Kristina Marie Darling is the author of over twenty books of poetry. Her awards include two Yaddo residencies, a Hawthornden Castle Fellowship, and a Visiting Artist Fellowship from the American Academy in Rome, as well as grants from the Whiting Foundation and Harvard University’s Kittredge Fund. Her poems and essays appear in The Gettysburg Review, New American Writing, The Mid-American Review, The Iowa Review, The Columbia Poetry Review, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. She is currently working toward both a Ph.D. in Literature at S.U.N.Y.-Buffalo and an M.F.A. in Poetry at New York University.

Carol Guess
is the author of fifteen books of poetry and prose, including Darling Endangered, Doll Studies: Forensics, and Tinderbox Lawn. Her most recent book, With Animal, was co-written with Kelly Magee and published by Black Lawrence Press in 2015. She teaches in the MFA program at Western Washington University.