sex, fruit, nostalgia

pie, leaving, home

art, self


That one smelledlike a Bradford pearyou said.

Said it in the glade               of broken-downs,                                                   after we'd passed over                                     the skunk pulled back                             to its muscle & stayed               silent about it.

               Said it leanedagainst the hood, lacing               the air with smoke,

                                                        under the mourning dove &                                                        its residual rain. Said

                         you liked it. Primal,                         you called it. Didn't

my fingertips glitterwith neon dustthe whole time?

I was a young Tinker Bell.

Sometimes, I miss her,            pollinating everything.

                                                            Nostalgia is a tease                                          like honeysuckle. The scent                                                            never lasts. Dear cricket,

                                                              in the clearing broad day,you bring it all back.      I remember [End Page 34]

my lips curling         from my teeth.Dipping lazy         into navyleather seats.    Cuttin.

                           Clitoris budding

              into a small fruit. Stay


                                                  Don't rush it.

Too soon that Chevy

will be a memory

rusting in the yard. [End Page 35]


Before I leave for good, I lift the pie server a finaltime, drop the receipt facedown next to the lemonblueberry slice, then my apron in the parking lot

like a betting ticket. There a Gallopalooza, stationaryas all the others scattered across the city—greets me.I move on. I'm looking for animation.

Can't go home, so, I disrobe in a stranger's yard,wash the batter away with a garden hose, then ridethe night bus like a carousel. Static girl. Moving room

of mirrors. Stilled blue bolts streaking the dark—there & then not—a stream of atoms pulledfrom my cheek. I'm splitting.        Coming apart.

I'm leaving & being left. I'm looking for youin all your haunts, until I realize I will find youat one of my own: In the long field,

synced lightning bugs near their show's climax.In the brief flashes of cold light, a glimpse of your coatBlack as flight. When they move on, it's just us,

six legs to the ground, still as statues, touching flatthe bridge of our noses. When you releaseyour wings, they swing wide as a gate.

The air lifts the snakes from my shoulders. [End Page 36]

Ars Poetica

Cutting down Chambers pinky toenail comes clean off.Another little ghostI can't bear to leave behind.I'm leaving in particles, breakinginto what I'll carryin a bag or pocket—a collectionof estranged selves. Outsideits case, the mind is a beehivefallen in the wild grassesof an abandoned playground.Except in these momentswhen I can sing againthe unexpected. Giftsdropped from my dead.Messages I stopto pick up. A hoofhalf-buried in the ground. [End Page 37]

Joy Priest

Joy Priest is the author of Horsepower (Pitt Poetry Series, 2020), winner of the 2019 Donald Hall Prize for Poetry from AWP. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in ESPN, Gulf Coast, Mississippi Review, the Rumpus, and Best New Poets 2014, 2016, and 2019, among others. Priest is the winner of the 2019 Gearhart Poetry Prize and a 2019–2020 Fine Arts Work Center Fellowship in Poetry.

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