Rachel Custer

What We Keep Worth Dying For

Praise the god of porkfat and flatbacked
Sally plunged elbow-deep in dirt praise hurt
grippin your back like an accolade praise staid
men, earth-made and unapologetic lives measured
in overtime & ass praise good weeks affording meat
as for me & my house we will praise
bluegrass headlines & women who take
the circle’s attention & dance like they work
(to kill a hunger) praise hunger the driving song
it makes of us dark animals in shadow

slinking along at the edge of every wood praise killing
one’s own dinner & the skin tearing away
from muscle at our hands the crackle on our tongues
of a recipe we wrote praise lard & hard
throats stopped against frivolous weeping as for me

and my house we will serve seven
good men for every meal potatoes cooked
seven different ways hunger grows into praise
if you can only wait butter patties melting
just for your appetite our best days the longest days
our best days the hottest, hardest days


About the writer:
Rachel Custer is the Poetry Editor and a reviewer and editorialist at O:JA&L. Her first full-length poetry collection, The Temple She Became, is available from Five Oaks Press. Other work has previously been published or is forthcoming in RattleOSU: The JournalThe American Journal of PoetryB O D Y[PANK], and The Antigonish Review. On February 13, 2019, Rachel Custer became a recipient of a 2019 Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Rachel Custer is the poetry editor at O:JA&L.

Image: Bella Apolonia by Alejandro Rosemberg. Oil on canvas. 17.7 x 11.8 inches. 2012. By permission.

About the artist:
Alejandro Rosemberg is an Argentine fine artist trained by Claudio Bogino in the classical style of the Italian Great Masters. He studied color under Graydon Parrish at the Grand Central Academy of New York. His works are presently being exhibited in the United States and Canada, respectively represented by Principle Gallery in Virginia and White Rock Gallery in Vancouver. Passionate about teaching the techniques he uses, he invests much time and dedication to his drawing and painting classes and workshops held in Brazil, the USA, and Argentina. Rosemberg is the O:JA&L Featured Artist for February 2019.