Poetry Suite by Amye Archer

Editor Carrie Ivy, Poetry, June 17th, 2014

Because I never said yes and I never said no- I simply stayed suspended in that sound

amye archer poetry suite nailed magazine

Tree Line


When you’re on a twilight bus ride from New York City to Pennsylvania, the tree line becomes your timeline. The still-bare branches outside your window rise and fall like seconds.

You remember your fourth grade art teacher, and how she taught you to draw trees by breaking the branches over and over again, fanning the divorces in your family against a construction paper sky.

In sixth grade, you learn to memorize a poem by tapping the beat with your feet.
………………………………………I think that I shall never see
……………………………………..A poem lovely as a tree.

When you’re five, your father plants his feet in the fork of an apple tree, rescuing your cat from the high branches. This singular act will buy him ten years more in your mother’s heart.

You meet a boy who hates Robert Frost and loves Kurt Cobain. You marry him.
…………………………Whose woods these are I think I know.
…………………………I’ve been locked inside your heart-shaped box
……………………………………………………………………….for weeks.

You marry the boy who carves your initials in a tree. He teaches you about airplanes. How they can glide onto runways using the tree lines as a guide if all other instruments fail. You memorize the rise and fall of his chest, and measure the rhythm of his breath with your own.

When you’re 24, you park your car under a maple tree. The seeds parachute into your engine and you can’t leave. You grow into a bad marriage. You choose the path well-traveled. Eighteen months later, you break your own branch.

You remember nothing before the age of four except the bend of your mother’s arm and the sound of her voice as she read to you every night.
……………….and she loved a boy very, very much– even more than she loved herself.

You can paint two things as an adult: the reflection of trees in a lake at dusk, and a rose that looks more like an artichoke.

You’re 35 and your daughters plant a pinecone in the soft earth of your yard. Their father swaps the cone with a baby pine in the darkness of night. On the other side of this highway, he waits for you.

When you’re on a twilight bus ride from New York to Pennsylvania, and all other instruments fail, the tree line guides you home.

+ + +


The Doors Movie, 1991.


With Sno-Caps candies pressed like pebbles
into my naked knees
I learn through hushed directives
and a palm on the back of my head
not to bare my teeth.

Break on through to the Other Side.

+ + +



There is a boy on top of me
and I can feel
the huff of his breath
the hump of his body
pressing into me
hard and bold
like a brand.

He was not insinuated
not persuaded,
but this is what happens to young girls
with plump little bellies and
We gather up the poison of young boys
With our low cut tops
And desperate eye make-up.

We hold tight against our chests the promise of

the ceiling and the floor is my bed
floating like a cloud in the middle of my room while trains and cars
zipper past on the interstate only minutes away
and light years ahead of where I am right now
plunged deep into a pool
of pathetic
so deep
it will be years before I break the surface
to breath the air of self-forgiveness

Because I never said yes
and I never said no-
I simply stayed suspended in that sound
the rush of the traffic
rattling the glass figurines on my dresser

The same way they shake years later
when someone opens and closes the front door
like if they were rushing up the stairs to rescue me
from the weight of the uncertainty
from the memory of my lips silent
from myself
rushing to pluck the pills from my mouth
roll back the clock
and shape my mouth into
a definite

+ + +

Milk Teeth


It’s Thursday and your teeth
are gone.
I tuck the last one, the milk tooth I coaxed from your upper gum, into a Ziploc snack bag
and we slip it under your pillowcase.
You laugh, stick your tongue through the holes in your smile
feel the air brush against the thick tissue.
You’ve become my great-grandmother-
slippery lips,
and a voice with no bite
sticking me in place with your spit.

Later, I slip my arm under your sleeping head
listen for your measured breaths,
and buy your bag for a buck.

I carry snack bags of teeth in the pockets of my purse-
spread them like ashes.
Bury the baby bits of you in random trash bins
at the local market-
your school
my work
our neighbor’s unsupervised cans

I plant you in the frozen garden
and hope for red, ripe cherries
in the snow.


+ + +

amye archer poet nailed magazineAmye Archer has an MFA in Creative Writing. Her first full length collection of poems, Bangs, is forthcoming on Big Table Publishing, Fall 2014. Her work has appeared in [PANK], Twins Magazine, Provincetown Arts, The Ampersand Review, H_ngm_n,  Boston Literary Magazine, and Hippocampus. Her first chapbook, No One Ever Looks Up was published by Pudding House Press in 2007. Her latest chapbook, A Shotgun Life, was published by Big Table Publishing in 2011. Her novel, Fat Girl, Skinny, is represented by the Einstein Thompson Agency. Her first play, Surviving, was produced locally as part of the Jason Miller Playwright’s Project. She is the winner of the first Scranton Storyslam and she hosts the reading series Prose in Pubs. You can learn more about her: here.


Carrie Ivy

Carrie Ivy (formerly Carrie Seitzinger) is Editor-in-Cheif and Co-Publisher of NAILED. She is the author of the book, Fall Ill Medicine, which was named a 2013 Finalist for the Oregon Book Award. Ivy is also Co-Publisher of Small Doggies Press.