About the Feature

Ideation, With Figurative Language

Photo by Aniruddh Dixit


I have a dog. Standing on her hind legs,
she barely makes it past my knee.
By scent alone, she dredges
a river curling around
the stones of an old fort,
& against my will, rips the head
from anything that moves.
So much of experience I only register
as feeling. Give me detail,
I shout at the river, & of course,
the river obliges, carp carving
their way north, frissons of brown grass
granting the water its color,
scrimps of fish head in the bloody dirt.
God was the word I liked most
to carve into my skin
when something sharp seemed
the best response to the gray
rain the sky let loose
over my parade, floats the size
of blue whales flattened into tarps
to catch & puddle the water.
Walking the dog with the name of
the biggest thing I’d never seen
etched across my chest, it took almost
everything in me not to offer her my head.
How, if I was dead, I thought, I would forget,
of all things, the moon. How it leers
& troubles, how it unbricks the birdbaths
somewhere inside me. Time had another name
—fiddlehead, fingerling, false aster—
but time passed, leaving little shards
of feeling to puzzle together into
something that simply resembles.
You can yell detail at the river & all you get
is more river. You can climb a ladder,
shout God at the void, stumble on a rung,
threaten that you’ll jump, that you’ll fucking do it,
what else is there to live for, but little dog
that you are, you’ll barely make it
past his knee.

About the Author

Matthew Tuckner is a writer from New York. He is currently an MFA candidate in creative writing at NYU, where he is poetry editor of Washington Square Review. He is the recipient of a University Prize from the Academy of American Poets, and his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Sixth Finch, the Missouri Review, Bat City Review, New Ohio Review, Bennington Review, Image, Poetry Northwest, the Cortland Review, The Boiler, and the Massachusetts Review, among others.