Sandy Longhorn


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Dan-Ah Kim

Midwest Nursery Tales

In the stories, someone’s always
lost amid the cornstalks
or swept away in a flooding season.

Most nights, the children ask for the one
about the girl who refused to mind,

who followed a pair of cabbage moths
into a field of alfalfa ready for the reaping.

The girl trailed the papery wings
through a maze of grass, ignoring
her mother’s wind-pitched voice.

Out of earshot, a fox appeared,
chased her dizzy and nipped her heels

until they bled, until she fell, exhausted.
When the searchers arrived, all they found

were her shoes and a patch of blood-red
poppies. Each year those flowers bloomed
no matter how deeply they tilled the soil.

Most nights, the children dream
of teeth sharp as a combine blade,

of the search without rescue.

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The Once-Winged Saint

After the wilding crowd
had razed her wings,
          her body shriveled
                              into death.
For three days, the mirror proved
no breath, yet
the nubs at her shoulder blades bled—
                     blood bright, hot, and red.
Her mother bound the wounds
with white linen,
                   the cloth the first relic.
In the aftermath, her sister crawled
through the grass,
                   plucking out
          the faint remains of feathers.
Even then, the women understood
that the village martyrs
                    what appears as other
           and then repents.
A century later,
                  the once-winged saint resides
in a windless, marble shrine—
still feels the ache,
                             the pull
of every relic long since scattered.

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The Fledgling Saint

Cast out by rough winds and a roar
louder than his father’s voice,
the boy emerged unscarred—

though the frame house shattered
in the hands of a vengeful God.

Orphaned in the aftermath:

the father-body carried off
and buried in a field of debris,

the mother-body, already
a two year absence before the wind,

the boy collected her journals
and stacked them in a leather satchel,
carrying her heavy scrawl

from prairie town to cities on the river.

With one hand on her words, one fist
threatening God, and a voice
packed with his father’s rage,

he could collect the clouds and fling
the funnels far from any home.

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Fairy Tale for Girls Enthralled by the Storm

Once there was a girl who loved the prairie wind,

would stand for hours on a slight rise in the land
and let the breeze play havoc with her hair.

It whispered secrets from the north and west,
and on gusty days sang songs of wanton lust.

Her father cursed the wind in coarse words

for stripping the soil and building deep drifts
of snow in winter, and while he cursed

he watched his girl and was unnerved
by the way she smiled like a woman.

Then came the summer of the string of storms,

each week another town struck down
by tornadoes that sprang up unannounced.

The radar watchers couldn’t believe how fast,
no time to sound the sirens as the air clashed

and clawed the people from their homes.

The girl was patient as she waited for the wind,
could feel the line of storms gathering.

One night she slipped from bed and walked
into the rain. She took her place on that slight rise,

called out, was ready to be lifted and transformed.

Sandy Longhorn is the author of Blood Almanac (Anhinga Press, 2006), which won the 2005 Anhinga Prize for Poetry, judged by Reginald Shepherd. New poems are forthcoming or have appeared recently in Anti-, The Dirty Napkin, Lake Effect, New Madrid, Redivider, Spillway, and elsewhere. Her work has also been featured on Verse Daily. Longhorn lives in Little Rock, AR, is an Arkansas Arts Council fellow, and blogs at Myself the only Kangaroo among the Beauty.

Sandy Longhorn at Anhinga Press

Sandy Longhorn’s blog




  • Christina Wegman

    I come away from these poems feeling both the hardships that make one stronger or destroy one on the farm as well as the primacy of nature. . . the writing has an air of mystery and magic, even if there are no fairy godmothers here to save the day. . .