Four Torch Songs by Allyson Paty and Danniel Schoonebeek

by Mark Bibbins, Editor


The year you stop counting
the months of war, the first year
the honeybees lose their way.
Ask for an elegy, you show me
to this silent patch of clovers.

The trouble she says is I want
what destroys you more than
I want to destroy you myself.
Isn’t that all I ever want to say
isn’t all she ever wants to say.


The white rain all morning
and sifting the flour for mites:
who was it we decided
said I tried to make potatoes
like yours but they weren’t.

For pepper I brought fistfuls
of nasturtiums, of marigolds.
For color, too. Take them.
Will you say grace for anything
I worked beneath my knuckle?


One is the year she says so
help me god no more kids.
One’s what they call the song
you hear playing when mom
is dragged away by the wind.

Time you go, little one. Time
you step from the train, or else
the conductor takes your arm.
Go on, you can hum your song
to no one. Time you go without.


Don’t forget Father’s head.
Ears that flared like a doe
when she makes her break.
To the very end, he swore,
I will empty out my gaze.

Dead meat is what he calls me
when I find him in twenty-five
years, living off chicory root
and licorice, on a marsh where
he says the salt lets nothing sink.

Allyson Paty grew up in New York City. Her poems have appeared in Tin House, Low Log, Underwater New York, Frontier Psychiatrist and the text journal A Similar But Different Quality.

Danniel Schoonebeek’s work has appeared in Tin House, Publishers Weekly, American Poet, Columbia: a Journal of the Arts, Maggy, La Fovea, and Underwater New York. He was born in the Catskills.

You can reach the editor at To dip into our vast archive of poetry, start here.