Amanda McIlveen ~ Poems


Our tongues ring
like bells, your
fin­gers groan up
the back of my

We fill this
space with a
lot of things


your point­ed feet
the bridge of your mouth
for­tune cookies

the way I escape
death each



I found you cry­ing in a neighbour’s back­yard & you were bent over & you had bro­ken my bed­room win­dow. I heard the news & there were a lot of num­bers involved. Empty rooms have always been emp­ty. I left you my ten-speed. You didn’t get far.



I think it will sting & it does. You jump, twist & close your eyes at the same time like it’s nat­ur­al. I want to choke & vom­it into the ocean. I want to blame it on the kid next to me. But there is noth­ing sexy about gulp­ing for air & dying in New Jersey. Maybe for mob­sters. Maybe for their wives. My lungs expand with what’s left of our home sunk inside. A hori­zon shrinks a bur­den until it’s a seag­ull get­ting fat off vine­gar fries. I’m in love with the way your mouth moves when you aren’t talk­ing. When it fills with salt. When it finds God inside a her­mit crab. The way it looks.



A rearview mir­ror says they held hands. I watched as Van Morrison sang them all the way to his car. Her arms like my mother’s wed­ding band around his waist.

It was less than a minute and you tied my shoes and you kept me from a phone call.



In the morn­ing we’re a line of stray cats. The com­mon denom­i­na­tor of an exit is what hap­pened last night. What I love about you is when your thighs touch. What I love about you is that you’re gone tomorrow.



Take your shoes with you, you’re going to need them. The sound in the hall­way is ele­va­tors.  In a cab he peels me gen­tly and Tom Waits and we nego­ti­ate wrin­kle free khakis. The last time you thought about it I was nev­er on the verge of any­thing.  I was nev­er about details/savings/steering.



The first call is always hold the wheel at 10 and 2. He tells me the last line is nev­er for rib­bons. I wish I was there to cheat your answers.  The hole in the city of Toronto is the quick­est way to put your freck­les in my mouth. We must absolute­ly mean every­thing. We must absolute­ly ride the mer­ry go round.



Due to increased prayer amounts, your body still remem­bers the things you want it to for­get.  This time of year reminds me of every­thing I’ve nev­er done.  The view from up here is dis­ap­point­ment. I’ve kicked more cans than any­one. I’ve robbed you more times than I can remember.



We spend the morn­ing swal­low­ing far away.  When you dri­ve me to my mother’s your hands are like slow mag­ic, shift­ing us from mile to mile.  When I owe you things.  But I don’t real­ly say it. In the pas­sen­ger seat I feel your heart­beat from the inside. We find the per­fect house. We bend at the knees. Everything you say sounds like heli­um & clouds & what goes up. We bury chairs and lay tow­els on our side of the moon. You sleep on the loud­est part of our secrets.  I just want you to be hap­py & then be every­thing.


Amanda McIlveen is a 30-some­thing moth­er of one from Hamilton, Ontario. She is the for­mer own­er and oper­a­tor of Thunderclap! Press and is the author of I Crush You Like (22–5, 2017), You Sang it Back To Me (Mad Rush, 2013) and North of the Mason-Dixon Line (In/Words Press, 2005).