Justin Runge

Justin Runge is a writer and designer currently living in Lawrence, Kansas, where he edits Blue Hour Press. Poems of his can be found in DIAGRAM, Linebreak, Harpur Palate, and elsewhere.

The Conspirator

A locomotive rose-
maled in mourning
heaves off steam.

It takes the last war
casualty through
the smoke remnants
like a somnolent
crosses the room.

And for a fortnight,
the barn arsonists
took to night travel.

Some warning fire
to perforate dry sky.
And only a parasol
is needed to hide.

Burlap makes crude
masks for the accused.

The only woman
blackens herself in
and out with a veil.


When the hedge maze
catches flame, masses
move in waves away.

A rose, lacerating
like the folio’s edge
slid across the skin,
clinging to clothing
like a lifted kitten,
iconizes the war.

Armies used to call
clouds with mouths
to topple the enemy.

Then came cannons.

Steel for weapons,
and timber to raise
combustible Londons.

Swordplay on stage
must be choreography,
must be red scarves
jetting from the chest.

The Robber

A mask reformats
his wince, his skin
tone approximated
in bloodless color,
lost body dredged,
wrong taxidermy.

The marathoner
has no choice,
tosses his body
from a window
into the street
like the duffel
of an adulterer.

The search party,
sudden as seep,
walks the glow
of dirt bike light
through the trees.

The infinite leaves.

They’re applauding.