The mind doesn’t do what we want it to do.

Mine plays speed Scrabble; it sifts pages and pages

of pictures of shoes. Palmyra goodbye. Temple of Bel not a pun

but a ruin. A ruined ruin, a ruin sent to oblivion

on purpose. Who cares if I fold up at my desk

a heap of angry sorrow. Not any candidate,

no ambassador. Sign a petition? Email some senators?

I make nothing happen. I make

nothing but orders, seven-letter words, coffee

with the hard water from the oleander-pierced pipes

with their roaches and mud. A temple

stood for twenty centuries and today the New York Times

shows us its new life as dust. Baal is how they spell it.

A neat aerial square of nothing now. The world wants

what from us in reply to the hatred of the mind?

I should say “soul,” I know, or “history” or “culture”

but probably only the mind can thwart destructions.

In America, the mind is also hated,

by whosoever sells us shoes and phones. We are subtle

here, give lots of money to the arts.

Copyright © 2018 Sally Ball. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Summer 2018.

Lizards will on purpose sever their tails when in stressful or dangerous situations, an act known as autotomy from the Greek auto “self” and tome “severing” or self-amputation. Even after the tail is cast off, it goes on wriggling, hence distracting the lizard’s attacker. The lizard can regenerate its tail in a few weeks. The new tail will contain cartilage rather than bone and vary distinctly, not only in color but in texture, compared to its earlier appearance. In humans, change in skin pigment and texture are due to disease rather than protective behavior. I heard of a South African woman who was once white but turned black over time. It wasn’t the reptile genes calling but a condition known as hyperpigmentation. Her husband asked for a divorce and took off with their three children.

The only mammals that come close to regeneration are the African spiny mice. Upon capture they release their skin. Imagine a predator holding its prey only to realize seconds later that it has escaped leaving only its skin. The mice regrow their skin, hair follicles, glands, fur, and cartilage with little or no scarring. Organic surgery at its finest.

Empirical sources suggest that “lizards, whose tail is a major storage organ for accumulating reserves, will return to a discarded tail after the threat has passed, and eat it to recover the supplies.” This makes me think that when we discarded our tails as Homo sapiens, we were supposed to swallow them in order to keep our reserves intact. We forgot a significant part of ritual and opened ourselves to disease, predators, and a weaker immune system. Strangely, while looking in the mirror, I notice some things have fallen off my body and I can’t locate them on the floor. Others attach to me like textile fabrics in all the wrong places. They fracture my ego, and I must find consolation that these zones of weakness make me softer. I want to know more about the self-amputation act, free will and all, but the English dictionary corrects the word to autonomy: self-rule, independence, freedom, sovereignty, which surprisingly concern the lizards when they’re shedding tails; compelled by their strong desire to remain free, safe, uneaten, untrapped, unconquerable, and not subdued in accordance with their survival manual.

Copyright © 2018 Mildred Barya. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Summer 2018.

I take a break from one thought or another
to pay a credit card bill,
to take the dog out, to water the two

plants in the hanging basket
because Kim asked me to,
but why not instead take a walk

through the early August morning
before the heat wave hits
while the body still stretches itself out?

The music goes from minor to major
when you flip the album, but sometimes
the minor starts over before you

cross the room (it’s a big room)
and sometimes it’s best to just listen,
it’s best to not fill any space with words

but the stars and the stripes catch
the eye more so than the white
blank space like a life to be filled up with

something bigger than itself. My dad
last night on the phone telling me the tests
came back positive but not to worry (but how

not to worry?), his almost three decades
ahead of me and what is a year
really when they pile up, time to dust

the furniture again, to check
on the sink that’s draining slow,
clean it out, start the day with a list

of what a day should even mean
or be, not minding how fast the hours go by
until I will mind, which by then it will

be too late, though I do not mean
my life means anything in the scheme
of stepping back we all do, chipping

at some unmovable block of rock
as if time won’t eventually
undo even its looming shape too.

Copyright © 2018 Adam Clay. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Summer 2018.


Talk of oneness or twoness or the trinity,
of beingness or the Kingdom of God,
of love, presence, the numinous and eternal:
how far away such talk takes us, far away
from the shade of the avocado tree,
the thighs of ripe persimmon,
the tongues of cattle licking
the great blocks of salt
in a hot



For every time someone says systems theory
one must say pines in the darkness;
for every time someone says biodiversity
or biophilia or sustainability
someone must shout musk
or barracuda or the whiskers
of the carrot. The real, living,
piebald world: we drop a cloak over it
with our cumbrous sophistication.
For every time someone says
cumbrous sophistication
someone must say the thighs
of the goddess

Copyright © 2018 Teddy Macker. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Summer 2018.

America I was I think I was

Seven I think or anyway I prob-

ably was    nine    I anyway was nine


And riding in the back    seat of our tan

Datsun 210    which by the way Amer-

ica I can’t believe    Datsun is just


Gone    anyway   America I was

Riding in the back    seat we were we my grand-

mother and I were passing the it must


Have been a mall    but I have tried    and can’t

Remember any malls in Austin at

The time America but do I really


Remember Austin really    I remember

This thing that happened    once when I was passing

A mall in Austin so    the mall so Austin


But then and when America will my

Grandmother be    my memories of her her-

self be replaced by memories of just


Her presence near    important or unusu-

al things that happened does that happen will

That happen we     America we were


Anyway passing     on a city street

But next to it the    mall and actually

I might have been in the front seat actually


And maybe it was    winter all the windows

Were rolled up maybe or at least the one

Right next to me    in the front seat Amer-


ica when for    no reason I could see the

Window exploded    glass swallowed me    the way

A cloudburst swallows a car    glass and a


Great stillness    flying glass and stillness both

Together    then the stillness left    and I

Jumped either over my    seat or between


The seats    into the back America

Or neither    here I might just be remem-

bering the one real accident I’ve ever


Been in I was    a child still maybe seven

Or nine and we    were in an intersec-

tion hit    and I for sure jumped then my grand-


mother and I again already my

Memories of the Datsun breaking seem

More solid than my memories of her


America    but I remember her

Mobile home filling up with trash    until

She couldn’t walk through any room    and still she


Walked through her rooms she walked the way I walk

Through stores    suspicious    and aloof watched e-

ven by the products I consume consumed


By you America    O cloud of glass

Copyright © 2018 Shane McCrae. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Summer 2018.

How a house is a self
     & else, a seeping into
of light deciding the day.
     A house so close

it breathes as the lake
     breathes. How a lake
is a shelf, an eye,
     a species of seeing,

burbling of tongues
     completing the shore.
How a loon is a probing,
     a genus of dreams,

encyclopedia of summer.
     Unsummable house
by the lake, generous hinge
     opening us. I loved,

in folds of sleep, to hear
     the back door’s yawn
& click. You gliding
     down toward shore

& dawn, beyond all frames,
     reconciling yourself to
bracing Long Lake.
     Into its ever-opening, you—

Copyright © 2018 Philip Metres. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Summer 2018.

I’ve been a soft touch, a rough ride, I took shots
at congressmen, left an outrageous tip
for a waif whose hand was shaking

as she poured my tea. I made the sound of a wolf
in Naomi’s bedroom, was shabby
at her wedding, sulking

while pinning an amorous note
to her gown. I refused to cross a picket line
then bought a handsome silk shirt

sewn in the most downtrodden district in China.
This when I was learning how to be a person,
which right now’s an unfinished symphony.

But when I think of Mozart on his deathbed,
penning his own requiem, I can’t abide my irony.
Nobody warned me about the solemn passages,

when we know no one, when we could die
far from home with our bungled furies and crushes
yammering beside us: Not yet, not yet.

Copyright © 2018 Ira Sadoff. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Summer 2018.

In what I think is a dream,
I look at some manifestation of the past

& say, I know you’re not real. Someone has to.
As most dream-things do, the past

shapeshifts, reconstitutes itself with new
eyes & a new haircut—the past

made over—& then I forget its name.
I forget what I’m doing with the past.

What is that joke about the river?
It’s not really a joke, no more than the past

is really past—the one about water never
being the same water. As it flows past,

the river’s current—now that’s a joke—
is always flowing now, now, now. Past

seven, when I wake from what I think
is a dream—a dream where I tell the past

the truth about itself—it is the present
as it always is. There is no past.

Copyright © 2018 Maggie Smith. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Summer 2018.

Dog knows when friend will come home
because each hour friend’s smell pales,
air paring down the good smell
with its little diamond. It means I miss you
O I miss you, how hard it is to wait
for my happiness, and how good when
it arrives. Here we are in our bodies,
ripe as avocados, softer, brightening
with latencies like a hot, blue core
of electricity: our ankles knotted to our
calves by a thread, womb sparking
with watermelon seeds we swallowed
as children, the heart again badly hurt, trying
and failing. But it is almost five says
the dog. It is almost five.

Copyright © 2018 Nomi Stone. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Summer 2018.