If nothing gold and you can stay,
I thought I knew from the wide
stretch of navy-black sky and sawgrass
so high and wild that we’d marry and guard
our youth, again. I’d be your
husband-sentinel, crouching in front
of heavy steel trailer axles, cleaning glass,
firing coal to blasphemous heat,
and blasting away shoulders
of meat like a matador with spears.
There’s a riot on the radio, they’re not
the only ones with guns, blood-slick sauce
on my apron, and you, a fingerprint on my mind
like a crinkling paperback squaring against my nostalgia,
a fist in a glove ready to pop and pummel. I want
to be the lasting bloom,
the bombardier that holds back the lever.
CONFESS THERE'S A WOUND
Sober, she pulls cigarette smoke dry hard
with wrinkled lips holding. Longer violent
ember races to the filter, snapping
thin paper reeling. Its crisp tobacco
disappears into her body, a way,
scattered through her nostrils against my taut
cedar-like neck. Craned, shaved smooth to my ears
because a jaw’s shape determines how well
you confess something sacred, how you hold your eyes
to other eyes in dark rooms. She’s lived in Mississippi
too long, with weightless air, and we dismiss
each other’s habits. A match filliped spit
light, our lips navigating, she holds the fire.
WHAT CAN I TELL YOU THAT YOU DON’T ALREADY KNOW
You flattened the bedspread on your side
with palms swift and no longer delicate,
militantly tucked a corner, and I pretended to sleep, curled
in the terror of who I’d become. My waking
wouldn’t prevent the separation. Dresser drawers
cringed and squealed, no folding for the packing
suitcases tossed down the hallway like Olympic hammers.
Your body twirled for momentum and heft.
There was the house and the longleaf pines wet
from fresh sleet-pack so thin and nearly invisible.
The sedan gunned in reverse, you vanished and I
absorbed the improbably morning darkness.
-from We Find Each Other in the Darkness (Texas Review Press), selected by Spring 2023 Guest Editor, Gerard Robledo
RICHARD BOADA is the author of two poetry collections: The Error of Nostalgia, nominated for the 2014 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Poetry Award, and Archipelago Sinking. He is a graduate of the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi. His poetry appears in The Southern Poetry Anthology, Urban Voices: 51 Poets / 51 Poems, Rhino, Crab Orchard Review, Poetry East, North American Review, and Third Coast, among others. Currently, he is Editor and Publications Coordinator of the Mississippi Legislature PEER Committee and teaches at Mississippi College.