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  • Goldberg Variations
  • Jim Whiteside (bio)

these hands, their roughness                if you tell me what to swallow, I’ll do it

                                sheathed in ice, brittle as glassanother kind of groping in the dark

                a blue note fills the room                                climb on top, again and again

what the mouth means                he commands the leaves to fall

                                smell of sweat, breath like creosotesifting desert sand through fingers

                roots turn back to dirt                                trees left with their nakedness

voice like a trombone’s slide                the weight of one body on another

                                moves from one pitch to the nexthe who holds the gun

                the way we learn language                                he who churns the waters

what the mouth means when it speaks                smell of cologne—a man wants to touch me

                                turn to ash, turn to boneI’m trying to unhinge my jaw

                speak, speak                                my mouth full of rust [End Page 697]

Jim Whiteside

jim whiteside is a graduate of the creative writing MFA program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and a Virginia Center for the Creative Arts Fellow. His poems appear or are forthcoming in the Southern Review, Indiana Review, Kenyon Review Online, Ninth Letter, and The Adroit Journal, among others. Originally from Cookeville, TN, he now lives in Winston-Salem, NC.



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