Peter Twal

Where Are Your Friends Tonight

And even the birds can’t find it in their bones       to sing for food today       Is it easier
from inside a cage       The neighbor kids selling lemonade         to the leaves, sidewalk
chalky hands,        how have they not collapsed yet       Carving each other’s       outlines
in the asphalt       I ask for a portrait       and suddenly, I’m being framed
for the thumbtacks Death left in your chair       right before God shot me

a text to say       I mean it to be ironic when all their oversized hearts explode
against the insides of their chests       Staring at all my friends, I think of a bird in a cage
fluttering about, fatter and fatter and pop       Here I was inking

my eyelids open in front of the mirror       my heart wet in my head       my skin embossed
with existential crisis like       On the down beat in that hospital bed, your mechanical breathing
reminds me of a little world’s surface cratering out of existence and you know,        does the universe even care
about me       God answers: don’t forget the twelve        bucks you owe me this year         and I’m trying
to put into words the euphoria of entering a space from an exit only door, asking myself what I’ve ever loved
too much and then Death       another dick pic, its phantom limb       before it’s too late


Peter Twal earned his MFA from the University of Notre Dame, where he was awarded the Samuel and Mary Anne Hazo Poetry Award. His poetry has appeared or will soon in Kenyon Review Online, Ninth Letter Online, cream city review, The Journal, Devil’s Lake, RHINO, Booth, Yemassee, New Delta Review, Forklift, Ohio, DIAGRAM, Bat City Review, New Orleans Review, and elsewhere. A first generation Jordanian-American, Peter holds down a day job as an electrical engineer in Lafayette, Indiana, and you can find more of his work at