Conversations with God in Utero

By Harley Anastasia Chapman

I say I am trying to build something here,
cut Mondays into slats of timber fit for burning.

god reminds me it is a sin
to desire fox-music pawing at the ear,
lukewarm jasmine sliding down the throat.

On the porch, three vices are dancing
wine-drunk in the waning light.

The blue hour breaks their porcelain laughs
like china against the clapboard.
Pride meets my gaze through tempered glass,
throws back her head & howls.

She knows god spat in my mouth.
That he held my jaw in his hand, said open
with his thumb between my teeth.

buzzes ceaseless in my ear
& god laughs, says life is a common viper.
He has no shame over sprouting words
like bruises behind my eyes.

As a child I spent hours
bisecting one popsicle stick with another,
wrapping the t in purple yarn to place above my bed.

Now I try to ignore the holy hand
dry around my elbow.

god lights a cigarette, feigns gentle,
exhales all-loving
into the top of my head.

Creation is an act of carelessness

he warns, hands cupped toward me like a beggar.

Once again, I fail to understand him.

god never tires of playing cowboy,
eyes too-blue under the brim of his 10-gallon hat
& a pistol strapped to his left side.

He offers me a drag of his American Spirit,
smiles at the game set between us.

Yesterday my thumb split open – a faulty cup
fallen clean from its handle, unprovoked.

I inhale the length of a psalm,
know I must move, a dutiful bishop
closing in on a line of white.

For a moment I am electric, earless,
a thousand eyes split open.

For a moment we are the same.


Harley Anastasia Chapman holds an MFA in poetry from Columbia College Chicago & a BA in English studies from Illinois State University. Her poems have been published in Nimrod International Journal, Atlanta Review, Superstition Review, Bridge Eight Press, & Columbia Poetry Review, among others. Harley’s first chapbook, Smiling with Teeth, was released in 2020. In her free time, she enjoys befriending spiders & painting portraits of ghosts.

Next up...

Portrait of Two in a Field at Dusk

By James Champion