This selection, chosen by Managing Editor Krista Cox, is from Becoming Persephone by Mary Ann Honaker, released by Third Lung Press in 2019.
It was a time of small beauties:
cigarette ashes flicked from car
windows aglow in staggered rows
like released Japanese lanterns,
bonfires in fields, in pits
dug in the coarse sand by the river,
a lovely thin-waisted boy
pouring beer over scraggly locks,
tossing coal black hair back: an arc
of sun-sparked jewels,
bright beads spilling down
bared chest, a crackling laugh
the final slay. To this day
I’m swifted back to those lean,
hard-drinking years by the scent
of cigarettes overlaying the spicy musk
of still-crisp, newfallen leaves,
the odor like a forgotten but favorite
metallic guitar riff—I thumb through
the cassette inserts of my mind,
find my mouth forming a feral grin,
my face forgetting twenty years
in twenty seconds. In photos,
I’m all whites of eyes, a timid doe
inclined to flight or a menaced
coyote inclined to bite, seconds
from a toothy snap. We yapped
through the night like dogs, whooped
at the moon encased in a fuzzy aura
of drunken sway. We fucked without shame,
pissed without asking pardon. We woke
to gnawing mornings, groped for soda,
stomachs unsettled and foreheads
filled with lint and cotton ticking.
I wrote of lust and headlights reflected
by roadside puddles, of love
and games of pool. Somehow we knew
it would get harder from here on out,
and took our revenge greedily & soon,
breaking into houses, stealing what
we couldn’t buy, cheating each other,
bleeding each other, perfecting pristine lies.
We drank everything we could stomach.
We carried small knives and brass knuckles,
slung back our shoulders, wore heavy boots.
We readied ourselves for the coming fight.