Molly Brodak



Ice crusts over the kingdom,
smog light, bus stop.
Glass mess grinds underfoot.
All the softness spooked right out of you.

A broad clean lake
like a cowl all around us, close.
In the Commedia all love branches downward
and is wasted when it gets to us,

the bottoms,
down through Halls Flats, down in Buick city, down, down,
debased, a slow bomb.

Days my hands worked without me:
blanking die, punch, broaching, neck it down,
and cut off.
Sheet metal would
wobble out the song, die punch
broach neck cut
A car pounded out of the ground.
To take a worker to his tools.

Now nothing. Rain collects in the holes.
Cans of meat from Meijers. Lift the kid
to the drinking fountain. Coins chime
on the sidewalk and everybody looks.
Lakes wobble. The bomb floats

right up next to you, close,
very close, particulate,

and you breathe it,
and you drink it.

The whole city painted in lead.
Its guts soldered out of lead.
Babies with hands in mouths.
Criminals are dreamers, just like you.
You will never solve that problem.

For a minute anger makes you huge,
you lift up out of you,

your eyes go nowhere, you’re
a ghost, a knife.

Later you return
to a ruined house.

A bit of soul unpeeled and rubbed raw.
Kids in sleeping bags are dreaming
about money.

They see us for what we are.
I cannot open my mouth, this is anger.
All night I imagine stabbing

not the state’s men, not the rich,
but my own throat,

and this is their power.

All night,
Thread Lake fills with good snow.


Molly Brodak’s memoir, Bandit, is forthcoming from Grove/Atlantic in October 2016.