Poetry by Jasper Kennedy

Dogwood Winter

All April my nerves are bracing for a wall cloud
whipping itself into spun sugar to send
a severed limb through my living room window,
but outside the air is still as a corpse.
From the couch the sky is a bruise
fading in reverse, sickly yellow to petechiae on pulp,
and I lay thinking about how healing
is sometimes just waiting in the presence of hurt,
dreaming your lips against my radial pulse,
your arm slung over my shoulder,
your hair parting under my fingernail.
Heat rises off clay and asphalt every afternoon,
lifts itself out of your palms straight into the canopy
of kudzu and unopened honeysuckle.
And just when I let myself believe the warmth could last,
frost on white blooms out in the yard,
and I’ve put my sweaters away too soon.
Tub water hisses a loaded lecture on false starts.
This isn’t hell — this is Alabama, but I never could
go far without the sound of tornado sirens following.
Then again, that might just be my ears ringing.

See Yourself in Ten Years

Look, when the smoke lifts, I don’t
plan to be alone by the fire, with a line
of chromic in my hand and nobody’s
arm around my shoulder, the flayed,
ragged edges of my apogee cut loose
to the empty breeze, my coat pulled
tight around every unraveled trauma
bond stagnant as puddle grit in my mouth.

Listen to me, I will have my stomach
swoop low as a parking lot gull
at least once a week, I will have my
heart lush, my uterus barren,
and a fistful of rosemary sprigs
wherever I reach. I will darn as many
socks as I deliver babies and commune
with corvids over boiled peanuts.

Know this, I will have hands to hold,
foreheads to kiss, soup to boil,
a thousand stick and poke tattoos
of a dogwood flower, of a magnolia
of a mimosa, of a spider lily sprouting
from every open expanse of what
used to be woods, and I am never
going back, so do not ask me.

Jasper Kennedy

IG: @jasper_truett

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