Three Poems


She slept too much. She dreamed of little girls wound around her.
She thought about an elephant and whispered in her head I’m sorry.

Buried deep in the ground wasn’t Satan but a woman trying to dig
herself out with a hand glowing over her.

Her body was like a diving bell and the sea not infinite green
but just a back road with no one on it, not even trees.

Small towns depressed her but she lived in them anyway.
Always next to herself, she stayed until she knew all of the faces.

When the faces depressed her she moved away. Then like
Marie Curie’s coffin she grew too many walls to get back to herself.

Even the story of her life was about someone else.



Each grass blade, minute, and sleeping body
clear as the smell of containment.

I feel drugged and amazing, as though
someone ordered me in secret, made me count

like a part of a peak in the distance.
I may not have a family but I know I belong

to the family of clocks. The day moves its hours
toward the sleeping stage upon which real people

present to me their lives, somehow sexual and glazed
in seventies gold, vague dread, childhood.

At night God is back, Jesus has returned and I talk
to them in their tender cave. Our favorite bird is the cardinal.

Like wardrobes we don’t open every day. Like a heart
that confides in no one, Jesus says. God’s head

gentle on my shoulder in the cavelight.
To make others believe, we believe ourselves.



There was something like a bladder in my head. My
heart was hungover. My lungs were two livers.
My feet were horse feet. Against my will I went
into the Halloween store and stood in front of
the twisting robot zombie who was a man torn
in half. Twisting and turning and groaning while
the sun blazed outside; a soundtrack of cackling.
Sometimes I try intentionally to embarrass
myself: as I tried on the turquoise wig I thought about
when I spoke up at “Strengths Training for Support Staff.”
What were you good at as a little girl? Lego houses.
Aflood my heart expands to the size of a Barbie.
Wig off, my womb is a doll house that looks just like
a real house. I sit on the porch through all weathers.



Click here to read Julia Story on the origin of the poems.

Image: by Joshua Sortino on Unsplash, licensed under CC.2.0

Julia Story:
At the beginning of 2022 my second marriage ended and I moved into a new apartment alone. The book project I had been working on didn’t make sense anymore. I felt oddly afraid of books and notebooks, the two things that in the past had been my greatest sources of comfort. Sometime in March, I forced myself to schedule an hour alone with John Ashbery’s typewriter, which is housed in the Woodberry Poetry Room in the Lamont Library at Harvard. The Woodberry Room is the only Harvard library open to the public, and anyone can schedule a free hour to type on the Royal that Ashbery used as a Harvard College student. I typed four single-spaced pages of what felt like nonsense, a copy of Some Trees open next to me. The time passed quickly and I felt very sad and exhilarated. It was the first poetry anything I had written in months. Eventually these pages were whittled down to “The Day Comes Suddenly into Focus.” Over a year later, I now draft poems on my own vintage Royal or German Privileg typewriters. And I can sometimes read again and I’m back to loving notebooks. Most importantly I feel more like myself than I have in many many years. You should visit Ashbery’s typewriter if you can.

Julia Story
Latest posts by Julia Story (see all)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.