Volume 13 • Number 2 • Fall-Winter 2021-2022

Christian Chase Garner

O Daughter of Babylon,

I remember when we laid in the dirt between the verbena, the tarragon, the milkweed
and the sagebrush—plants that rose up against God and sank teeth into the harsh earth instead.

The embers of the campfire were scornful, reflecting on their past mistakes as we shared
a thermos lid of greased cast iron coffee and a couple cigarettes. We were children

of the canyon walls, lost, cradled, cursing plutocrats and flirting with constellations
as they undressed before us. Glaciers of red clay pulled the river over the horizon,

forming a cocoon around us—a metamorphosis into the necessary dawn—and the sun gave birth
to kindred hangovers and three lines of an aubade and dreams of a gazebo

wrapped in Spanish moss, a sentinel over the Alabama ocean that we would decorate
and redecorate in colors just invented. But after one orbit too many, our eyes shake hands

like they’re part of a shady business deal that they’ll never speak of again, and we’re more like
the verbena, the tarragon, the milkweed and the sagebrush than ever before. And we wept,

when we remembered Zion.

"O Daughter of Babylon" was previously published in Stirring: A Literary Collection


The difference between a lake and an ocean

was decided years before me, years before my neighbors stabbed pitchforks into their cattle for fun. They told me I prayed with my hands too tight before they went to sleep so effortlessly—I stopped praying that night. I need the spiritual opacity like this poem needs cicadas and birds and a sunset. I always thought purple was just a bit more beautiful than the other colors, like it was made for me. Ozymandias buried himself for less than the difference between a lake and an ocean, a mistake that I will never return to knowing.



He was sixteen, his mind vacating from the potent death of his grandmother, the one who would always make him a special pot of beef stroganoff without the onions and bell peppers. His sleep cycles would ooze from their stigmata after he became Juan Ponce de León to discover some euphemism in some language to replace “diabetic ketoacidosis” while his mom and stepdad traded guilt trip currency in the next room. His whole life, he gravitated towards her, like how her houseplants would yearn for the sun through the stained glass, bending themselves any way they could just to get one more moment of silky radiance. Even when they would grow brown and brittle, when their leaves would conflagrate and wither and their stems and roots would beg themselves not to keep reaching, they would not listen, and they would burn with the hubris of thinking that the sun would be back for them tomorrow.

Chase is currently a graduate student and received his B.A. from the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith. His work has been published in places such as Stirring: A Literary Collection, Mistake House Magazine, and Applause Literary Journal. When he is not writing, he is composing music or baking for his wife and three pups: Paris, Mia, and Sunday.