Two Poems by Sam Moe

Cold-Letter Writing

Sending you notes in the lining of button mushrooms written in
gold gel pen, stamped the secret of January but soon we’ll be
stuffing the surface of each place with chopped baby reds, crisp
tomatoes and burnt egg, maybe I love sharp champagne cheddar
more than you, bet you didn’t think of that, bet you don’t know I
throw open the windows to my house every winter eve, waiting
for you to crawl inside, blue fire that twists across fields of roots,
you arrive with an open crate of plum-apples not yet peeled, your
fingers need to be kissed to avoid frostbite but I’ll let someone
else do the job, how much longer must I pretend I’m not hungry,
you’ve passed out on a rug my grandfather knit, I’m on the
kitchen floor, crate overturned, twisting skin from my teeth, want
to stick my mouth in pits and frost pears, everything is lilac light
and frustrated moon, I’ve eaten the forecast, I’ve banished the
sun, we are all rain and mud and ashes, we are sleeping in
separate rooms but I’m waiting for you in this corner of the bed,
once I hear you open the fridge it’s over, I left you letters in jar
linings, wrote your name in a spill of coffee cream on a glass
shelf, mushrooms hold my heat but so too do plates of scaled
silver-blue cod, a haddock begging for your hands, I’ve filled the
crisper drawers with bitten-back word collections yet you’ve risen
in that damned grey dawn and disappeared into the willows.

May knows she has feelings for Jackie when they’re dancing. Eve
of the final week of the semester, there are paper and wax butterflies
taped across the walls. Jackie and May raise curved hands, step
close then away. May wants to ask her how she’s been feeling
since her first residency is ending, will she be in the halls for the
break, or will May be left alone? Instead she doesn’t say anything,

it’s the creature she sees first, electric green raptor bones hang
together in a bright chorus, stalking animals across lawn, eve
scratches at the windows and the moon tosses stars around, the
ballroom is lit from the inside-out. May wants to tug Jackie, fly
out the door in time to meet the caster, but Jackie’s hands ring
May’s neck, make her feel she might be able to forget the bones, step

away from the campus and become a person, not a shade. Stepping
away from Jackie now, it breaks May’s body in two, there’s nothing
she wants more than to drag Jackie along but she can’t, a sting
starts at the back of her hand then leaves at her fingers, Just leave
the room now
, she thinks to herself. May is running, blue-silver flies
of streamers cascade over her face, she hits octagon balloons, the

night has turned in on itself and she’s left her heels across the
lawn, straps torn, beads plucked off. The raptor is stepping
away, beautiful but cruel up close, why did the butterflies
show up every time a fossil was near? They blinked red to nothing,
the raptor has eaten and is hunting again. May follows, evening
a cape around her already-frozen shoulders, her lips feeling

a tug-of-war between yelling out and keeping hidden, it’s in
her best interest to remain quiet and safe. Soon she’s the
only one in the forest alive, strange flies everywhere, the eve
eating the hours, blotting out stars with a kerchief, kept
telling herself she wasn’t scared, wasn’t wrong, now looking
back she feels no less unjustified. Their sneers, the flies

she found in her desk, name written on dorm-room walls, flies
with exes for eyes, she felt like removing her jaw, the evening
had brought no solace and now she was unsafe. It’s nothing
then the green teeth in her face, eyes like lantern, castle of the
creature a name that gets caught in her throat, a no, you can step
away, this isn’t the last time.
Jackie responds, I know, I cast it. Eve

was once filled with the comfort of hands, she thinks Jackie won’t
attack, butterflies remain clear grey, then why a threat in the face, why

a feeling of disenchantment, why step up the truth now? What
happened to us,
May thinks to herself. Raptor opens its jaws side-

long, screams into her mouth, evening sky is soon filled with
flies but not hers.

Sam Moe (She/her)
Sam Moe is a queer writer of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. She is pursuing a PhD in creative writing at Illinois State University. Her work has appeared in Overheard Lit Mag and Cypress Press. She received an Author Fellowship from Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing residency in June 2021.