Gregory Powell



blues suite


we sat under a
new moon, counting patient stars
in a single tongue.

§

a hollow shell curved
in the pit of my stomach,
emptied of my name.

§

she dreamed a woman
sprinkled black pepper over
my eyes while i slept.

§

i remembered when
i wrapped lost stars in tinfoil
for her morning meal.

§

when she craned her neck
to the moon’s new side, i was
there, numbered each kiss.

§

i learned. her curving
body was a winding road
without compass, guide.

§

our brash words struck bone.
time did not set broken bones/
didn’t rewrite our past.

§

while she slept i sniffed
her raven-black hair, rose water
banished to this shore.

§

she counted her spent
words in our straw house. she hoped
they consumed all air.

§

if i spoke in wood
i would cast her shapely legs
in mahogany.

§

red carnation pressed
in waxed paper/slipped in a
book’s stale leaves…fragrant.

§

above her, my back
spread to the earth’s four corners,
covered sky sea stone.

§

her soft lips were the
purple of eggplant. i tasted
peppers when we kissed.

§

i gargled her name
in my stale dry mouth/tasted
sweet peppermint rain.

§

i rested the moon
in her lap, filled the hole that
remained with my words.

§

known smells (roses/thyme/
vanilla) reminded me
she once rested here.

§

“if you find my name
on your way home, please, keep it
until you return.”



JUDAS FLOWER


There was a thrumming in my chest. Not my heart. Not a misfired cylinder that appropriated inappropriate blood portions to & from my veins. I heard the thrum when I laughed full throttle or when I sang full-throated blues. It was as if someone with a humming jones tabernacled within my chest/feigned their next fix. At first, I labeled the thrum a chest cold. Metal strings rattled in my caged ribs when I coughed. I gargled a full measure of white lightning (dropped from a copper tit) in my mouth & swallowed. No relief. Next, I stirred one eyedrop of asafetida & one eyecup of asarum into cooked lightning & gargled the lightning my mouth. My jaws & my throat burned but the thrumming thrummed. I asked a Seer, blind since birth, for a remedy. “Did you try to Root of Jesse?” he asked. “Centuries have passed but the Lion of Judah still flowered.” I answered no. I pictured a lion lying in a bed of judas flowers & thought what odd bedfellows they two made. The oldest flower I’d seen was a red carnation sleeved in wax paper & pressed between the leaves of our family bible. The Seer recommended that I stand beneath a sunflower’s showerhead, lift my face to its hungry black eye & expect.


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Gregory Powell is an MFA student at the University of Alabama. His work has appeared in Callaloo, Cairn, Tar Wolf Review, Mosaic, and The Langston Hughes Review.