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Smith Corona Sterling Outside of Salina by Cami DuMay

The thing was mutilated, the tooth-yellow keys cracked or missing, the metal oxidized to the color of dried blood just like Hemingway said it would, and all the warped machinery bent to lay down perfectly beneath the tires of an eighteen-wheeler.

I imagine some sorry poet threw it from their car going 95, in a suicidal rage because, as it does, the stillness got to them, because some things are impossible to write, and because when caught between a hard night and a bad decision, it is likewise impossible to amputate both of your own hands.

Lying in bed, I look over at him and I know how it feels to be faced with something gorgeous and utterly unwritable. I’m a romantic, but my metaphor are impotent stumps of bone and cartilage, the weight of his sleeping hand on mine something no hemorrhage of words could speak to, and every single word I’ve learned is useless against breath on skin.

And you know, you know that if you can’t write it, you go crazy, so I go, throttle-down into the night, down interstates where broken bottles glitter like sequins in the high beams, the glass immortal swirls like galaxies at the corners of my sight. The road asks my soul with its stygian curves, and, gasping curses from a gasoline mouth, I court oncoming headlights like eyes that understand me.


Backstory for Smith Corona Sterling Outside of Salina:

This poem is written about an old typewriter keyboard I found in 2017 outside of

Salina, Utah. My dad and I were on a road trip and had pulled off the road outside of

town to make some tea, and while the water boiled, I wandered a bit down the road

and found this piece behind a bush, deep in the gravel shoulder. It was by far the

most spectacular piece of junk I’d ever seen, and immediately prompted questions of

when, how, and why it ended up out there. What I wouldn’t give to know its origin, or

get a glimpse of the writing it produced in its lifetime. I have it hung on the wall

above my desk as a reminder of the duality of the written word: both a mortal thing,

and a legacy.


Cami DuMay is an undergraduate at UC Davis, pursuing a degree in English with an emphasis in creative writing. She is the winner of the 2023 Pamela Maus Contest in Creative Writing, and her work has appeared in Equatorial Magazine, Hare’s Paw Literary Journal, and by the Moonstone Arts Center. She writes about myriad aspects of life, from intimacy and trauma to nature and insects, but most often comes back to an intersection of magic and pain which is grounded in the everyday.


Interstate - (Fantom) - S0lar


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