To the Next Supreme Justice,

Cara Dees

There were also a few hundred looking into abortion through bleaching one’s uterus…                                                                        —The New York Times

                        Madam or most likelier       Sir, surely by now                                 you have noticed the salt-       dark smell of sulfurflour, flower, sweat       that lifts from women’s           downturned limbs       after their close afternoons together.                          When I go milking       it seems my smell is everywhere                                   & if my letters to your co-       elder-judges survive,I like to think       my bloodbreathing scent       has been driven out          of their pages until       almond, cream, clean       grass alone remain,                       smooth & blank       as brochures.                               I tell myself I must be       a fresher midwest.       I must becleaner than any harvest,       a pasture swept of dust,          all my beasts housed       elsewhere. I tell myself       one must allow oneself                       to be kept, from time       to time one must accept being                                stripped down & stored.       Such is what the midwestwas unswamped for       so arms stippled pink with timothy &        the lustier mosquitoes       can prepare various proteins                for the use of those       better compensated. Future Honor,                            the fact is I need counsel:       how best to go oncorrectly, to go on     with correct living (to go on       with living), e.g.        the film in which       men lock an iron clamp into                   a cow’s butterfly haunches       & hoist her bodily                            from her rank bed of straw; thus       she rose more quicklyfor their morning chores.       A necessary pain.       Or the tumor         on my mother’s wrist       purpling, sharpening, until                      she smashed it with a dictionary     collapsed      from the blood-                               edge drumming into her      until she balancedback over the gravel       to return to barnwork.          When she settled into death       a penny-sized violet                      still swelled beyond       her yellow wrist.                                  Un-      faced, Un-      fazed:the body ungoverned requires strategy      just as mares overrunning          a snow-veiled electric fence      are wooed back into a warmer calm,                      & after, the wires      re-stitched, the current                                  re-switched     her herd held in place.Sometimes       I dream of the road thinning          into a distance hidden       beyond this farm & all along it                       snow, wire, current.       l await eagerly your response,                                    the response of your brothers,       in this hour ofbleach, the year       two thousand sixteen.

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Cara Dees holds an MFA degree from Vanderbilt University. She is the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, a Pushcart Prize nomination, and was a finalist for Indiana Review’s 2016 Poetry Prize. Her work appears or is forthcoming in such publications as Beloit Poetry Journal, Best New Poets 2016, Crazyhorse, The Journal, and Southern Humanities Review.

Gulf Coast

Winter/Spring 2018

Houston, Texas

University of Houston

Justin Jannise

Managing Editor
Paige Quiñones

Poetry Editors
Josh English
Devereux Fortuna
Nicholas Rattner

Begun by Donald Barthelme and Phillip Lopate, Gulf Coast is the nationally-distributed journal housed within the University of Houston’s English Department.

Gulf Coast is still student-run. We seek to promote and publish quality literature in our local and national communities while simultaneously teaching excellence in literary publishing to graduate and undergraduate students. While we are committed to providing a balanced combination of literary approaches and voices, all of the editorial positions are two-year terms, thus ensuring a regular turnover in the specific personality and style of the journal.

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