Jesse Della Riley

I want for Elliot a fullness.

 

Well we can go

in the queer bars,

 

dumb with sweat,

& our grime is sugary

 

we can pack bodies

in the dark

 

What a glory

 

we are

indistinguishable

Death is dim & blurry

I live,

I live,

I live,

& your beauty

& up and down my back

 

well we can go

to St. Louisa’s

 

in the back where people disperse,

& we fuck.

 

Worship

& our grime is urgent.

 

The world after all,

& what have we got left.

 

You say, “well, to quench.”

Your hand is warm.

 

Your breath is wrapping around

my chin,

 

You say, “oh, I am,

I am.”

 

you are wrapped to the floor

I am out of breath

 

My lips stand out

dry and cracked

 

I want.

oh, it is well

 

Things have happened here.

wet swimsuits hung out to dry

tables rolled over and strung with lights

a fort in the third bedroom

bad movies

laughter & a couch

a house.

 

Why do we measure time?

 

Let’s measure touch.

Let us

 

measure time

in terms of bread and shoes,

 

and fish

in relative extent of ocean

 

blue; let us not explain

ourselves & what we have studied

 

& not made money from;

let us not remember

 

every useless tick of time;

let us

 

not invent new trouble

unless it’s fun & maybe

 

remarkable

I am

 

so happy; I am the first

or the last to break; I am full

 

I am branded with a scripture

I am burnt with everlasting fire

 

I cannot take the early parts

of life without medicine

 

I am drawn from his mouth

as a stone

 

I am not a god, not a gentle voice

& nor is god

 

I am the first or the last to renounce

every broken word;

 

I have gone forward,

I have gone backward,

 

I have gone onward from

silence to silence; I have

 

hung wet swimsuits

and violets

 

Take me home

where laundry

 

thrashes

in beached wind:

 

Where the swallow

hides her treed kitchen:

 

The cicada rubs

to every heat-drenched night:

 

The wind says, “Blessed

are the ones I leave to die.”

 

So having slept,

raise me again,

 

again;

give me more violets,

 

out of sleep, new violets,

rise them sticky sweet,

 

as rimming,

wild honeysuckle;

 

give me more words;

out of sleep and sleep,

 

the fringe of love is lined with fire

wild,

& wild,

& wild,

& wild,

weeded words

& the hung, wet swimsuit of a child.

 

 

Failed to catch the thing.

 

If it’s gone past a lover,

every fluffed-up cloud,

stars, the moon,

Jupiter’s blue,

 

& hasn’t found God,

what does longing attach to?

 

We chew through black coffee.

 

I am plump and bloated.  You call me bloody

adjusting my panties.  A moth opens

 

and shuts its wings like an injured fan.

 

We brew coffee & dress buttered toast.  The moths

& their bellies full

 

of cotton.

 

In the morning we brew coffee.

In the morning, a whine from the husky.

In the morning what does a mouth

 

Take me home.

The wildness of love ebbs like a wave.

The absence of God only increases wildness.

You say, “So the Lord has grown our longing.”

You lie in our bed in a wig. You smell
not so much of sex, as toothpaste.

 

So the Lord; grow me long.

 

You say, “For God to cast out darkness,

put your longing inside me.”

 

Awanmoon held out her fishing net

& failed to catch the thing.

A comet burned a hole through her net.

 

Tell me your long places.

 

Your fingers curl to your coffee.

I reach for your face and forget why.

 

I long &

grow taller.

 

Wane: to grow

small.

 

We say we are standing.

Really we are swaying like insects.

 

Or someone on the sea.

 

The moths are chewing.

Waning: less and less light.

Fuck me on this day

 

with clouds.

 


Jesse Della Riley is a genderfluid poet from Georgia and is currently completing an MFA at the University of Massachusetts under Ocean Vuong, Peter Gizzi, and Dara Wier. Their poetry explores unfriendly deities they don’t believe in and friendly people they do. They are an editor for jubilat Literary Magazine and will be the Assistant Editor starting in Fall 2018.


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