Five poems by James Blevins with art by Garrett Riggs

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Clove Hitch

 

Awake,

We recall all of our former lovers, baffled

By the histories that brought us to this

Bed, out of the rain, and into each other’s

Arms. Other parts swam separate and

We noted their travels with smiles and

Teeth and wet bites where the ropes

Are just beginning to fasten down. We

Test each other’s readiness for such grip

With delicate nodding of heads till our

Rib cages touch and push everything close.

 

Till

Our skin is too hot to hold, and the white

Noise of our commingling breaths begin to

Drown out the hum of this April rain, and

We simply cease to notice that it’s morning.

 



Elegy for a Moth

 

I one day caught a star in the night’s sky.

with a crooked finger I pulled it through the clouds it called home

only to use it as light for my writing.

 

on the desk a moth landed on my new star

I knocked over a cup of pencils and pens to swipe at it

left a light dusting of itself on the star’s skin, giving off smoke.

 

the smell of the moth’s legs kindling on the star

turned my stomach every which way. my heart sat bone-caged above

worse for the wear, I’m afraid, rabbiting about

 

my star bitterly melted the cap of a spilled pen, and I

watched the moth burn in the molten plastic as it pooled around.

I returned the star to its home in the clouds. I wrote by the light of this burning moth

 

I used the pen it died in. I wrote of the star it died for.

its short life smothered, and all for the glow of a stolen star.


Green Mountain Coffee

 

the café nearly empty—

scent of burnt brew

 

wafting through

our shared morning.

 

and you turned me on,

talking of Verlaine’s 

 

passion for Rimbaud,

stirring your drink.

 

“with a bullet,” you said,

“he made it apparent.”

 

we walked to the library,

but no French poetry.

 

sitting and quietly

staring into nearly

 

empty corners,

an idea struck,

 

became a rat

chewing at my throat.

 

a bullet I held back,

so as not to be obvious.

 

Helios

 

In the smoke of morning, she takes 

off the sun’s clothes for me,

holds them up by two fingers,

before letting them fall upon

the earth.

 

Like the saddest animal,

I burrow in the warmth 

of what’s balled up and left behind.

 

With grey in my beard,

I claw some prayers

in the stone cave of our night sky. 

 

From the floor, I pray 

for a good hunt, a sigh felt through the ages, 

and for an archeologist 

to one day read my scratches

by candlelight.

 


Wooden Board

O’ahu, Hawai’i

The shearwater turned its head to my green tank—

and I, frozen on my driveway, let it look and sing

then forgave it amid the thrum of Makakilo,

meaning “observing eyes,” which I had

 

From time to time, off the nose of my skateboard,

seen the girl across the street who never shaved 

her arms or legs, never kissed me with passion,

as I remember it, but I was only seven after all.

 

I was so swollen; it was 1988. And brah, the shearwater’s

gaze gave me much to ponder over, even then. Haole

boy and her—Melissa (I think)—just across the street with

no hands, so humpbacks splash sad in Mamala Bay, like all of us.

 

✶✶✶✶

James Blevins’ poetry has been published or forthcoming in Pretty Owl Poetry, Stoneboat Journal, Mud Season Review, AZURE, Alexandria Quarterly, concīs, THAT Literary Review and Salt Hill Journal. His first chapbook, What Nature Keeps Secret, was recently published by Bitterzoet Press in 2018.

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Garrett Ray Riggs is a writer and illustrator who lives in Florida with his family and a herd of cats. His work has appeared in Mary: A Journal of New Writing, Quail Bell Magazine, Bright Lights Film Journal, Tampa Review, and Cineaste Magazine.