cate peebles

from The Woodlands

There’s chairs & more
chairs that look like all
the other chairs but are
also slightly different by
virtue of curve, color,
material & blink there
are tables now, beds &
beds & beds, where will
I sleep & wait & hold &
curse & blame & snooze
into the future, as we’re
here to choose a cozy
setting for my wanting
& my wishing to not
want anything from
anyone, which only
makes the want & wish
too bold, but are we not
tame towel racks &
terrifying paisley duvets
all at once in our
impossible to
pronounce Nordic
habitats—so THIS is
how to screw your past
life into the present
tabletop that holds our
cheese & seltzer—& we
wonder if this hand-
woven rug will make it
all better once & for all
with its tightly knit piles
complete & uniform,
this maze of how-to
instructions to build
your whole life more
pleasantly cannot
wrench our dismantled
& mutable alliance nor
construct for us any
pictorial solutions when
we stare deep into the
hamster’s eyes through
mute glass & search for
the correct dried krill to
feed the tropical fish

I’m no painter & have zero
idea where the green
should go although I
know I like it when I see it
when you’re on the floor
there crawling with a
brush between your teeth
to make something appear
where it never had
business existing because
you saw something on the
side of the road & thought
it needed an afterlife from
your hands & head &
that’s a pearl-sized
thought to have about
creation, about the world
as it must be taken &
struck for daily fire &
nailed to a wall to view
blankly because we’re
trapped serpents inside a
wicker basket our
nighttime spent in
constant revival to conjure
discrete forms that go into
our bodies like lost
squirrels in a mine shaft &
this is how I say it’s
dangerous as a solitary
arrow in the gut you just
get used to as it grows a
new home inside you, but
you don’t know how to
say with certainty: TAKE
IT OUT no matter how
many vital shades you
scrape off the side of the embankment or scraps of
bark you hide in drawers
next to the condoms but
still there are things we do
with our clumsy hands
that seep into our sun-
filled bodies, sink & stay &
leave a fuchsia splatter
stained on white linen that
has no clue what it needs,
but it takes what light it


He was shot in the neck right here,
you say, as we cross the intersection
against the light & you reach for my
hand as if holding it would save us
from bears & guns & each other; an
invisible shield locked in place by
fingers that could stop a hurricane
short & everyone sent home safe &
we haven’t had any coffee yet but
have already asked: would you push
a man off the cliff if you knew it
would save a town—but how could
you choose to push the man, that’s
murder, you don’t push the man,
you say, you don’t push the man &
we wake up & we play screw,
murder, marry with old masters,
driving to my car in the lot where I
hold your head above my eggshell
breast & sop your ochre curls with
my whole face like horsehair &
glows like Madonna col bambino in
a barn fire & the smooth strands
brush my cheek as I push away,
climb out of your car & sink like a
wound, back into my own



Cate Peebles is the author of four chapbooks, including The Woodlands (Sixth Finch Books, 2016), and James (dancing girl press, 2014). Her debut collection, Thicket, won the 2016 Brigham Award and is forthcoming from Lost Roads Press. She is an archivist, currently working at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, CT, and a co-editor of the occasional online poetry magazine, Fou.