what's that song you were singing

when we pulled ourselves from the waters that became the flood?

you know the one, that made a rhyme out of counting bodies

out of counting footsteps in the mud, 

the song that sounded like ghost armies, marching to bring us home,

like hope played backwards,

the song people sing to their hearts when they're alone

step 1 (how to throw a party in the middle of an unprecedented worldwide pandemic)


in 1889 a man named small invented a new and improved hammock

slung between railway seats, allowing passengers 

to sleep through the journey in compressed comfort

hanging slightly above the chair, 

legs squeezed against the back of the seat in front of them, 

supported by a rope hooking under the heels.

we fit our ideas between other people's

shrinking them until they suit the narrow place we're allotted

grateful to exist anywhere at all.

and when someone shouts so everybody can hear

picking up the barriers confining them

throwing them out the window blocking their view

creating a great commotion of shattering and bright light

we hunch down, keeping our hands and arms and legs

inside the vehicle at all times, whispering, shhh, someone might see you.

photo: James Rattigan

Kate LaDew is a graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a BA in Studio Art. She resides in Graham, NC with her cats, Charlie Chaplin and Janis Joplin.