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Saeed Jones

Saeed Jones was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up in Lewisville, Texas. He received a BA from Western Kentucky University and an MFA in creative writing from Rutgers University–Newark. His debut poetry collection, Prelude to Bruise (Coffee House Press, 2014), which Flavorwire called “perhaps the readiest, most painfully assured debut of the decade,” was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and was awarded the 2015 PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry. Jones has received a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from Cave Canem and Queer Art Mentorship. The executive editor of culture at BuzzFeed, Jones lives in New York City.

By This Poet

6

Kudzu

           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.

Nocturne: Beheaded

for Thapelo Makutle

All throat now      already brighter than the stars.

I could hold you in my song. Sotto voce, tremble

against me: a breeze slips in, cools my blood

to garnet      bed stained with stones, cold and finally

useless            I Orpheo,       I lyre.  Down river, even damned

with hum, there is room for your cry in my mouth       Sweet,

sweet sotto voce, I sang your moan until       the machete

swung      then I kept singing. I eyeless,      I eternal.

The guards hold blades to the sky and cut the dark open.

Do you hear me raining        from the wound? My tongue

is a kingdom       You live there.

Boy in a Stolen Evening Gown

In this field of thistle, I am the improbable
lady. How I wear the word: sequined weight
snagging my saunter into overgrown grass, blonde
split-end blades. I waltz in an acre of bad wigs.

Sir who is no one, sir who is yet to come, I need you
to undo this zipped back, trace the chiffon
body I’ve borrowed. See how I switch my hips

for you, dry grass cracking under my pretend
high heels? Call me and I’m at your side,
one wildflower behind my ear. Ask me
and I’ll slip out of this softness, the dress

a black cloud at my feet. I could be the boy
wearing nothing, a negligee of gnats.