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The Heartland Review Press

2021 Chapbook Contest

Grand Prize Winner

Kevin Oberlin



Lovers in a Cellar


The windows shudder in the rain

like the creak beneath the chair’s thick claw

or crickets lost in the quack grass:

everything an echo, same and same again.


A voice from TV shimmies down the stairwell

as we ferret under the carpet,

sweep out corners, run the water,

cock our ears against the furnace.


Same and same again.

We start at the shift of night sounds,

flashlights over the door of sex.

Listen, it’s the owl in the poplar.


The streetlight blackens the branches

crossed beneath it like our mingled etymologies.

We’ve relinquished all our mortal names,

as if we could re-love in treason all we think we love.


Other night.  Other lover.  Same and same again.

I’ll remember not to bury you, but by your wish

inter you where you sleep, ripe for resurrection,

a parody of my crooked throat.


Plainchant rises from the blades.  Another choir

shifts like damask, overtaking human noises.

This is the culmination of all our efforts:

like a woman, like a cricket, like a storm.



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