Matthew Tuckner

What’s in a Name

Wax-sealed letters from my parents. Diphthongs.
A dollar. A dollop of saddle grease.
Ground to stand on. The question

spoken from the pit just below
the lungs that had been transcribed
as: “Siri, where should I dispose of my

Body?” Lifeguards. Superfluous lifeguards.
Thickets. Untold thickets. Untold
thickets topped by birds. Whippoorwill.

Feasible Whippoorwill, the most. Growing
discontent with the heliotrope, a rope, rafter
slung. The question emerging just below

the tailbone oft-recounted as: “Siri is this the
coin slot? Or the bill mouth? And where
is my money going?” Wherever the horses

are going. The corn belt filled to the brim
with beer bellies. Around and around
the ring like a horse is likely to do, the planets.

Inflorescence of the heliotrope, believed, at once,
to grow towards the sun, in fact, doesn’t
so, nothing. So, everything. A soft, wet,

shapeless mass of material, the one rose in the rose bush left
unsniffed is. Science Fiction and Fact are in there sure.
The Battle of Oriskany is in there sure.

The Mars Rover Curiosity sings itself
happy birthday from deep within
The foothills of Olympus Mons as

a year that is a bit longer than our year
commences. So, it is definitely in there
sure. The Hamlet of Carkeel, sure. Beyond

Reality, sure. The Uffington White Horse,
sure. Two dollars. The Flux Capacitor.
Why we eat when we’re not hungry.

Why we eat when we are hungry.
The vocal cord responsible for an ah
overperformed for the doctor. Erroneously,

several umlauts. Several hands. Several more
fingers. Furthermore fingernails. Chuck-
Will’s-Widow’s. Many Chuck-Will’s Widow’s.

The frame of a Mitsubishi, reservoir-drunk. Deadhorse,
a town in North Slope Borough, Alaska.
The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System. The crude

lugged by the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System.
The Pastry War. The Ragamuffin War.
The War of the Oranges. The War of

The Oaken Bucket. The War Fought Over
The Water Within The Oaken Bucket.
The man who was rescued after two days

at the bottom of a mine shaft searching for gold. Gold.
Mercury before it is turned into gold by
Cleopatra the Alchemist in an alembic. Blood.

More blood than reasonable. The seven feet of large
intestine in a horse. The seventy feet of small
intestine in a horse. Passwords. Several hints.

What was the name of your first pet?
A zoo. The pipistrelles in the batcave of the zoo.
The sounds they see with their ears.


Safe and Sound
after Christopher Kondrich

My system is armed, so I can
remove my arms from my pockets,
and let my hands breathe, my hands
that partake in so much I have never

directly bequeathed upon them. I mother
my arms so carefully that the oilcloth
I clean them with grows a visage some
would like to call prophet, but

others would write off simply as smudge.
Choosing between the SimpliSafe
triggered by a central button capped
by a bright red exclamation point

and the LoudBlaster HomeSiren,
I choose to inhale powdered toad
secretions once a month because its
tested that it will keep me happy, because

every system should be tested before being
fully implemented on a larger scale. Not
I’ll, not despair over the raccoon who set
the sirens off, gifting me my daily portion

of threat I suck down like a communion
wafer. Because a man says to the universe,
Sir I exist, I must make it clear that men
are mostly superfluous according to my

nutritionist which is why she says I keep
getting sick. I agree. I’m as not needed
as the next guy, knock-kneed, a hack-
neyed toadlicker. The system plunges through

the heavy clay, but I do not wish to call on
the horses of disaster quite yet. I still
have miles left to go down this hallway
my arms trace the walls of. Somebody

tell the poets all the death is happening two
states away, and that to turn a toad back into
a man with a kiss is just another endless vamp
I’d like to put an end to if my happiness weren’t on

the line. If my safety. My nutritionist,
administering to me what she can scrape from
the animals, without scaring them away, says
the shapes I will see are made of pure

understanding. There is no need to be
scared. But I have too many arms in my pockets to feel
safe. I should move my arms back to the safe
because even they are scared. A toad running its tongue

along a shard of glass tastes all the latent human
hidden within it. The sand some child labored over
only to watch it cower under a wave and disappear.
The child signed its name because it is said that it is nice

to own your labor unlike the legion of statues unearthed
from under antiquity; authorless and armless. Venus, the God
of understanding, question: would you like to borrow
these abacuses? They can get you all the way to ten, no further.


MATTHEW TUCKNER recently received his BA from Bennington College, where he worked as a Production and Editorial Assistant for Bennington Review. He also recently received the 2019 Green Prize for Poetry from the Academy of American Poets, selected by Rick Barot. His work has appeared in the Eunoia Review. He has received support for his fiction and poetry from the Roxbury Writers Residency, where he was an inaugural resident, the NYS Writers Institute, and the Summer Seminar for Writers at Sarah Lawrence College. He currently resides in Westchester, NY.