I won’t be forgiven

for what I’ve made

of myself.

            Soil recoils

from my hooked kisses.

            Pines turn their backs

on me. They know

what I can do

with the wrap of my legs.

            Each summer,

when the air becomes crowded

with want, I set all my tongues

upon you.

            To quiet this body,

you must answer

my tendrilled craving.

            All I’ve ever wanted

was to kiss crevices, pry them open,

and flourish within dew-slick

hollows.

            How you mistake

my affection.

            And if I ever strangled sparrows,

it was only because I dreamed

of better songs.

More by Saeed Jones

The Blue Dress

Her blue dress is a silk train is a river
is water seeps into the cobblestone streets of my sleep, is still raining
is monsoon brocade, is winter stars stitched into puddles
is good-bye in a flooded, antique room, is good-bye in a room of crystal bowls
and crystal cups, is the ring-ting-ring of water dripping from the mouths
of crystal bowls and crystal cups, is the Mississippi River is a hallway, is leaks
like tears from windowsills of a drowned house, is windows open to waterfalls
is a bed is a small boat is a ship, is a current come to carry me in its arms
through the streets, is me floating in her dress through the streets
is only the moon sees me floating through the streets, is me in a blue dress
out to sea, is my mother is a moon out to sea.

Daedalus, After Icarus

Boys begin to gather around the man like seagulls.
He ignores them entirely, but they follow him
from one end of the beach to the other.
Their footprints burn holes in the sand.
It’s quite a sight, a strange parade:
a man with a pair of wings strapped to his arms
followed by a flock of rowdy boys.
Some squawk and flap their bony limbs.
Others try to leap now and then, stumbling
as the sand tugs at their feet. One boy pretends to fly
in a circle around the man, cawing in his face.

We don’t know his name or why he walks
along our beach, talking to the wind.
To say nothing of those wings. A woman yells
to her son, Ask him if he’ll make me a pair.
Maybe I’ll finally leave your father.
He answers our cackles with a sudden stop,
turns, and runs toward the water.
The children jump into the waves after him.
Over the sound of their thrashes and giggles,
we hear a boy say, We don’t want wings.
We want to be fish now.

A Memory

When they finished burying me, what was left of me
sent up a demand like a hand blooming in the fresh dirt: 

When I’m back, I want a body like a slash of lightning.
If they heard me, I couldn’t hear their answers. 

But silence has never stopped me from praying. 
Alive, how many nights did I spend knelt between 

the knees of gods and men begging for rain, rent, 
and reasons to remain? A body like the sky seeking

justice. A body like light reaching right down into the field
where you thought you could hide from me. 

They’ve taken their bald rose stems and black umbrellas
home now. They’ve cooked for one another, sung hymns

as if they didn’t prefer jazz. I’m just a memory now. 
But history has never stopped me from praying.