Issue 22




Hymn and Palinode*


Sarah B. Boyle







The beautiful boy      is an ache in my teeth           pressing

in every startling    direction      Smooth  and  ghostly and

unceasing    his whole body shimmering    in the leaflight

a mistake   welcoming and begetting      beauty


Concussion of sunshine  the first flash of desire    striking

breaking apart before      the strange eyes        of sundown

The boy made plain      The boy feels the loss         festers







The nightingale sings         the contagion of beauty     My

milk face        dazzles you       And you submit      beneath

my silver palm        The small bird            makes greetings

from another       world


My tiny heart-shaped    heart   beached and fragile    brain

bereft and newborn         The boy is          odd and delicate

austere and inadequate     The sudden        saccadic feather

breaths                            red  luminous and             missing







The endless weight   electrified  arcing   arching  breaking

the glittering sword dance       given green pliancy       and

hundreds     of pink particularities


Human knob           the tool he holds             A slap so low

a legion of        imperfect wishes to remain   forever in the

mind of beauty           arise and shatter           on the stones







I was under it or    staring down at it      woven into its face

its torso of wonder     open and cupped     rapt and risen up

a great army         of pain and awe           washed with brine

and three times queenly


An awful smell      branching lurching     in the interrupted

instant              An underground garden         terrestrial and

casting down             abrasive in his             devastating lap

I whip and cut         the night to stripes







The boy  made beautiful horse  desire severe   arranged in

full force   Lifting out     from his center         out in out in

out in in in       A devastating moment     I turn away from

the sweet honeysuckle   the sweet william     the horseboy


Flower to fig to rot                                                We break

fall to our knees                                                         Behold

our violent                                                             trembling

longing                                               through the lessening










*All the words in this poem were sourced from Elaine Scarry’s On Beauty and Being Just. 

Sarah B. Boyle
is a poet, a mother, an activist, and a high school teacher.  She is the author of the chapbook What’s pink & shiny/what’s dark & hard (Porkbelly Press).  Her poems and essays have appeared in Lunch Ticket, Menacing Hedge, Entropy and elsewhere.  She is a founding editor of the Pittsburgh Poetry Houses and reviews editor for Hyacinth Girl Press.  Sarah B. Boyle is online at