Measurable Terms / Arlyn LaBelle


Measurable Terms

poems by

Arlyn LaBelle

ISBN: 978-1-59948-851-6, 40 pages, $12 (+ shipping)

Projected Release Date:  January 28, 2021

The Advance Sale Discount price expired January 4, 2021.

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Main Street Rag
PO BOX 690100
Charlotte, NC 28227-7001

Arlyn LaBelle is a queer poet and writer living in Austin, Texas. Their work is inspired by Imagism and tends to pause on small moments and still spaces, seeking intimacy with the reader. They have appeared in the Badgerdog summer anthologies as well as JONAH Magazine, North of Oxford, Grey Sparrow Press, Cease, Cows, Panoply Zine, The Southern Poetry Review and others. You can find more of them and their work at

Arlyn LaBelle’s debut poetry chapbook, Measurable Terms, speaks as a voice within a voice, which is “unquiet, a rolling storm” & silently fragile, as hands becoming birds, “their little hearts beating.” In its four sections you will find resignation, distance, rebellion & rupture that captivates, especially when each part is ultimately woven into the whole essence of being. ~Diane Sahms—Poetry Editor, North of Oxford

I built a church for you


where every hour, a stalk of lavender is burned
and the smoke curls blow into my eyes
and every time, you say,
I’m sorry.

I built a church for you
where the stained glass shows
a boy standing in a blue canoe
combing the weeds of the river
like the hair of women drowned.

I built a church for you.
The communion, jack and coke
and a cold spoon of mole
that coats your tongue like bitter velvet.

I built a church for you
with a creek outside where
herons stalk, spilling wheels of air
with their gold-rung legs,
and in which, everyday
a priest will take a piss.

I built a church for you
where every hour
a piece of me is burned.
I peel the skin from my wrist
like puckered bark.

I built a church for you.
The first of many, but the only one
with white walls baked
in the sun.

I built a church for you.
I was born to be a priestess,
in an empty room.



The boy who r-ped me had a daughter


To bury you, I took on a new name,
my old one couldn’t lift a shovel.
I found a fencepost tip to map
my body. I practiced knee
knee knee with my fingers ‘til
it hurt. Somewhere cold,
you have a daughter. I picture her
in a paper dress, you bending
to braid her hair, smelling tin
and blueberries. I dream about
staining her arms, yellow like
cake, coating her in oil paint,
keeping clean her eyes and
nose as your name spreads
a heavy aurora, dripping on her
toes and plastic princess shoes.
In another dream, I stop her drowning,
my mouth over hers, I press
her chest until she sees me,
her eyes the blue
of your bedroom walls back then.



Measurable terms


I try to weigh our changes in
measurable terms, the meals
I do not make you, the hours
I now get sun, a drapery,
leaden evening heat. Could
these mean less than missing
news about your mother
I watched her laugh until
she cried, thick socks sleeping
on the sofa or will I mourn
each with equal time; my lighting
casting nets across
the sky.


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