Salamander 2024 Fiction Contest

SUBMIT: May 1 through June 2, 2024 | READING FEE: $15



Guillermo Bleichmar
| poetry


Men with beards of dirt and fire
went around the woods, swinging hammers
to symbolize dominion.

The marks by which they made themselves
known upon the trees were all kept in a book
in Williamsport (where even the sidewalks

were made of wood, whereas they slept
all night among the fallen trunks and shook
with visions,
then in the morning light to strip
down to the waist and scrub their bodies
with a piece of soap, pale and purple
with cold).

The mills of Williamsport were all
on one side of the river.

As the trees came down,
floating to their transformation they were cut
first into planks.

Whatever then remained was turned
into furniture
and so on, until down
where the river began to leave behind a last few houses
and trees there was a mill that turned out keys
for the little uprights
of the Midwest.

Even if it all finally ended
with a toothpick factory.

Guillermo Bleichmar teaches at St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico.