top of page

Issue 3.1

Winter 2023

Dawn Tefft


I was reading All Our Yesterdays, a novel written about everyday life during fascist Italy as the war came on.  I was thinking about how even in the most extreme of times, the everyday is all there is.  There is no getting around it or outside of it: even extremes are made up of drudgery and little pieces of time stitched together.  If we are very studious, we try to pay attention to

the stitching.

How Do I Tell You Where I Come From?

When you’ll be more like the girls
                                     I thought I hated

the ones who were two-story houses             with garages and five pairs of jeans

                                                              Will loving me be enough

to see the food stamp weather          moving across my geography
            roaches crawling inside my mouth   

                                                                                         and my books all falling open

to no nights at the dollar show


              When my eyelids close, will you see a film projected
                         of an engine
                                      hoisted up on a chain slung over a tree branch

                                                                             a body slinking out of a red Vega
                                                                                          with a scavenged orange hood

                                                                                                      trying not to be seen
                                                                                                                  at the high school


Will you hear the waves in my ears
            pounding my mother’s untreated yeast infections 
                         into a lyric

                                                 and my brother’s payday loans
                                                              and my other brother’s jail stints

Or will I have to show you the actual poem
that says
           “I was the maid's room
            pretending not to know the gratuitous
            nature of the maid's room
            my own mother, a kitchen”

                                                               then leave you to your best guesses

and any homework you give yourself

                         to puzzle out where you fit in the poem that ends

                                                                “and we rise slowly”

Dawn's Book Recommendations

Dictee by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

Snow Part by Paul Celan

shattered sonnets love cards and other off and back handed importunities  by Olena Kalytiak Davis

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

Dawn Tefft's poems appear in Denver Quarterly, Fence, and Sentence.  Her chapbooks include Fist (Dancing Girl Press) and Field Trip to My Mother and Other Exotic Locations (Mudlark). She earned a PhD in Creative Writing at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, volunteers as an editor for Packingtown Review, and lives and works in Chicago.  She is an intentionally single parent.

bottom of page