Alexa Penton is a 20-something part-time poet with Mississippi
roots and Beijing wings. She began writing during her freshman
year at the University of Mississippi, after spending many summer
evenings with Mr. Faulkner and his ghosts. She has never been to
prison but isn't ruling it out.
I did not watch him cross the redlight
that separates our neighborhoods
and when he appeared at my door, it might
have been a visitation. There is only one
way of coming, even in this city
which slips rings of stone around us
in the night and which in secret
dug long tunnels for child emperors
who themselves were not unlike the god
standing at the top of my stairs, the roof
bombed out, starlight and little candles
all around my room.
For all of those small steps we took
out of 2016, it was this final push
more of a catapult really
proving no force
or impact would resurrect my rib
cage, which folds and collapses
into itself such that
I am forever looking down, watching
where my feet go. He won't remember
but from this position I could kiss
his knees and did. I poured a glass of dirty
water from the faucet and watched him
walk off into the night, past the intersection
thought: I'm in it for the long run
thought: Wait for me
and began to crawl.
Somewhere over the Bering Sea, 2017
Thirty thousand feet and six inches
up. Grief is thinner here
and communal, shared perhaps
by a pallid man whose gray smile
drips all over the airplane seats
when the attendant asks if he is able
and not if he is willing.
I blow on the steam rising
from my tea and watch leaves
ebb like drowned bodies.
See: plumes of black smoke
See: little foil bags adrift on the water
Many little things are on fire.
The pallid man's limbs disjoint
and float into frame. Pale fluids lacquer
little airplane parts sinking fast
into pacific oblivion. Prepare
the cabin. I tap the gray man
and he turns to me. Lips all
melted now, hands melted
now. Do you have a pen
Do you have a plan
All this gravity
it never relents.
Heavy like first sight
and as little known
came you, plummeting
Through the days. A walk
to the emperor's lake,
familiar now, once unmapped
Down old stone alleyways
permitted to lose direction.
I was immense and hemorrhaging
belief. A bright cavern of loss.
But devotion metastasized in me
Learned to live where you did not
Crushed my bone into opal plumes
and dismantled temperance
Until I bedded chaos
unraveled into the night
of an old proud capital
And back in that northern city
in the ruins of intention
came you, symphonic.
Toutiao (Staying at Ed's)
Joe arrives late with hands full of would-be peaches. It is the quiet
and disused hour of night. We trail sawdust all the way to Ed's room
and he sets aside the nothing-peaches long enough to tessellate my body
to satisfaction: stomach down, like that photo of me and Dad
in the pool. Joe has hands like a cherry marionette
hacked to death and hot-gummed back together with tar.
In my dreams, his hands explore my landscape
not harvest it. The luxurious hour expires and the felled tree
on Ed's porch reminds me that I should speak (at least get belly-up)
before the nothing-peaches disappear for good. But we (me and Dad)
know it's too late. He whispers from his place behind the drywall:
Buy any number of peach flavored things.
Build you a peach kingdom.
Still won't be Georgia in June.
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