Soul in the Shell

Trey Wright

Nick Kolakowski

Time Destroys Mine

Take a seat in the sagging lawn-chair,
Pop open a beer, and settle back
For the greatest show on earth
Now that football season’s over,
And there’s nobody left to bomb.

The star of today’s episode
A humble banana, thirty cents
At the corner store, frowning
On the wall that backs your yard.

Drain your can
As you watch
The sun beat down,
Searing its yellow skin,
As the hot concrete
Bakes its flesh,
As time rots it out
From the inside.

So it, so you, so me.
There’s nowhere the center holds,
And a few times a year,
You need a memento mori
From the produce section
To remind you of that fact,
Shock you back into your skin,
Pulsing and pink and slated
For demolition.

Cover Up

My brother drowned in my pool.
His body a smooth pale stone
Scraping along blue tiles,
His blood muttering toxic.
I told everyone: I’m fine.
We weren’t that close anymore.

My brother drowned in my pool.
I started drinking for him
Just to take up all his slack.
I pulped my knuckles punching
A scarecrow of his old clothes.

My brother drowned in my pool.
I wanted a ritual
To float his dead weight away
So I drove downtown last night,
Cradling a right-sized rock,
And hurled it through a store window,
Like his drunk ass used to do.

My brother drowned in my pool.
And by doing these loud things
I could keep my own depths
Hidden, like sunless water
Under a nylon cover.

Pool Toy

Minutes before he dove into the blue
My brother inflated this toy—I’ve no clue
Why he decided to pump his last breath
Into a white shark, leave it on the path
Leading from pool to garden; some hard days
I want to open its valve and suck, crazed,   
The dregs of his soul deep into my lungs,
Recharge my pale blood, color my gray tongue.
But no, no, I’ll wait—
For a big event, like the Super Bowl,
Or when my wife’s womb yanks another soul
Howling into flesh. Outside I’ll stalk,
Grind in my molars this little air-lock,
And pull, breathing deep the sibilant hiss,
Sensing his whisper, but the words I’ll miss.


There is purity in the emptiness
Of my wife’s gaze when she looks at me.
Buddha whiteness, unmarred by love or hate;
I am a paper cutout, a blank slate.

‘Let’s fill the pool in,’ she says one morning.
‘Make a new garden, a basketball court.’
Pouring more coffee in our cups, she asks,
‘Why does it smell like bananas out back?’

Her soul has grown a shell.
Her faint wrinkles, her folds, the way she coughs:
I still know the flesh, but not what drives it.
I can see her shape, and not what fills it.



The customer success manager (that’s my job)

Must sit at his desk from eight o’clock ‘til five
And tell anyone who calls about the software

That they made the right choice in their purchase.

The customer success manager must always
Increase adoption, ensure satisfaction,
Boost retention, identify up-sell opps,
Advocate all cross-departmental needs,
And smile, motherfucker, remember to smile.

The customer success manager must never
Attempt to grasp the world’s magnificence
And the smallness of his place within it,
Must never yearn to see the frozen wastes
Along the northernmost rims, nor the sea
At dusk, flickering green with frantic life,
Lest he lose the will to remain a slave.

Most of all, the customer success manager
Must never decide to put on some lipstick
And a pearl necklace, for the hell of it,
Before marching through the beige catacomb
Of Office Building 2, middle fingers
Raised, loosing a Viking roar of triumph,
                        the center
                                                            is not

And I
                        am not


The green fields smile
Beneath the streets’ concrete veil,
And the bananas smile
In their outdoor stalls,
And my brother smiles
From deep down in the blue,
And my wife smiles
From behind her paper heart,
As I skate along
Faster than the thunderclouds,
Making my weather
Wherever I choose to go.

In motion I am
Energy and matter at once,
Immune to the rot,
Even gravity itself.

In motion I am
Needless of soul infusion
From a big pool toy
Filled with a dead man’s last breath.

In motion I am                       

My shadow
                                                smaller now

The hot concrete

                                    far below

I will never sink
                                                or stink.

Swallow Yourself

Landing in the backyard
Waving to all those skyward
Faces gaping in awe at me,
Golden god, my own worst enemy.

My energy sparks rhythm
In even the most ancient hips;
Turn the radio to a hymn,
So the old women can do flips.

My breath crackles with raw life
Under noonday’s bright star
The scarecrow starts to writhe
Like the good thief on his cross-bar.

I have no idea why
I ever thought I’d die.

Trey Wright

Trey Wright holds a degree in photography from the University of North Texas. His work explores popular culture using photography, collage and installation-based work. He currently lives in Dallas with his partner and their pug Ollie. Wright continues to show his work through the United States and abroad.

Nick Kolakowski

Nick Kolakowski is a writer and editor in New York. His poems and fiction have appeared in The North American Review, The Evergreen Review, Carrier Pigeon, Crack the Spine, and other venues. He is also the author of “How to Become an Intellectual,” a satirical book of nonfiction. Someday he will figure out how to fly under his own power.