Poetry by Taylor Cornelius

"Hot" by Linda Vredeveld / lindakvredeveld



Rattlesnake Tamer


Rattler rattled wily 
eagle eye up the valley 
I’m not afraid I’m not 
afraid there it is iron hot 
poison seamed rocks 
here I am this land 
canyon and piñon 
every night I shift 
the direction of wind 
from north to south 
I shift the river’s whorl 
say I will not mend it 
stitch it to the cowboy 
stick it to the cowboy 
my arms are filled 
with sage the cattle are soft 
dance in the western spring 
brimful of cottonwood haze 
I too have loved the sky 
this is my width my depth 
leech lined murk of the pond 
to plumb and be plumbed 
in a poplar’s green shade



Taylor and I


The other Taylor could write this. I wander around Brooklyn in October, past cobwebbed houses and drifts of masks and a mouse not yet dead on the sidewalk. I hear about Taylor from friends, I write her name after love in letters. I like lyricism, dogs that look like wolves, bandanas, and the writing of Italo Calvino. She likes to put the word “buckaroo” in everything. She knows I would never write a poem about myself so she does it for me. Sometimes, I envy her when I see her writing about sex and I wonder what turns her on. I hate telling people what it means and so does she. When I sit outside in the wind and October’s all around me, I can’t tell which one of us gathers leaves to take home. We harbor arboreal interests: elms, maples, pines, apples. There’s a city inside the city where we live. It belongs to the two of us, and we are its only inhabitants. It’s the city we carve into blue ruins to admire the view. The one we build again out of pigeon wings and plazas. Together we draft blueprints and tack them all over my room. We are the mayor, the council, the shopkeepers, the cooks, the unhoused, the depraved, the dying. We are inhabited and inhabiting. Calvino writes each change implies a sequence of other changes, that is, the city and the sky never remain the same. Tonight I stood alone in a field while the moon rose. The clouds turned silk grey as the crescent pulled them apart. I wrote what I didn’t know in the space between.




On an Evening in Crown Heights


There are ghosts hung from the ceiling at the market 
Mouths stretched and jack o’lantern jumble 
As we pause by the pickles and hold hands by the pinto beans 

The evening fog came in so dense my lungs 
Filled up and the trees were haunted by morning 

Tonight I dreamt of Ginsberg dreaming of Whitman 
His penumbras fluorescent pastiche and the compass of his beard 

I waltz with him in the park 
I ask him about charity over coffees 
I want to disavow his heraldic musing 
I want Ginsberg to slap Whitman in the ass and for Whitman to like it 

The trees are clattering as they give way to draped brownstones 
The seldom drawn curtain 
The stars are out again 
The meadow is blazing 


Taylor Cornelius is a poet, artist, and writer from Denver. She is the recipient of the 2015 Academy of American Poets prize at Kenyon College, and a former Kenyon Review fellow. A recent graduate of New York University’s MFA program in poetry, she currently lives in Brooklyn.