Volume 8 (Fall 2014)

Lisa Sewell



Bad Faith



Was the bitter one. Was the apple

of unkind, like Margery Kempe

who slandered her husband

her friends, her own self.


Was the frown and unforgiving face

that hovers spite-filled, known and unfamiliar

in the plate glass window light.


Was the bad-faith sorry and the yes

please and could not put a name

or too fine a point on it, much less

defend a position or a point of view


for as the spirits tempted her to say

and do, so she said and so she did.


Sharp enough for stitchery, words too

could pierce the skin's indifference

moving in and out like quick machinery

a steady rows of flames.


And from this seat on the long hill of time

I can read the devilish postpartum

blues that bite through her own skin

and drive her toward the careful negotiation:


forsooth, I had liefer see my husband slain

than we should turn again to our uncleanness—


She had a pilgrimage, a choice to make

just as I have made and unmade mine:

the umber wool sweater still murmurs from

the knitting bag, half the front, most

of the back, no collar, and one full arm.



Lisa Sewell is the author of The Way Out, Name Withheld and Impossible Object, which won the 10th Gate Prize and is forthcoming from Word Works Press in 2015. She is co-editor, with Claudia Rankine, of American Poets in the 21st Century: The New Poetics and Eleven More American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Poetics Across North American both from Wesleyan UP. Recent work has appeared in Ploughshares, Harvard Review, Apiary and Drunken Boat. She lives in Philadelphia and teaches at Villanova University.  


On Libations: This summer, I went on a tour of the 1792 distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky, and found inspiration in their Ridgemont Reserve Barrel Select. I also discovered Provençal-style rosés. For a mind of winter, single malts, Laphroaig 10 year, or 18 year if someone else is buying. After work, a dirty martini with Bluecoat American Dry Gin distilled and bottled, here in Philadelphia.