But First, We Must Eat the Skies,

by Michael Boccardo

you say, & with your palm warm between my thighs, I think of how
much has already stolen into our mouths.

My teeth hum with the memory of it—feathers,
flight. The stone
in my throat like an egg cast from its nest.

Day after day, I must learn to swallow what isn’t mine.

I could say you hold me
down the same way the stars pin their grief into place,

but no, you are nothing

like the night, molding instead my body to the refuge of yours as though
I were snow
breaking open to accept the embrace of a boot.

How long, this falling? How remote?
Before the baptism against your tongue’s warm glove,
               let me revel

in the glory I have yet to quench: my skin
a testament. Its slow spill of lust hammered into something holy. & gilded.

You have starved us into an escape I cannot become.

No, you won’t survive
the storm of me,
the flood, the surge, the brief fire roused between horizons.

& yes, I will smother
under the lesson of you, a lesson my lips must predict again & again,

because never
am I so full
as when I am full of my own emptiness.

MICHAEL BOCCARDO’s poems have been published in various journals, including Kestrel, Mid-American Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, The Southern Review, Border Crossing, Prairie Schooner, Nimrod, Comstock Review, and Best New Poets 2013, as well as the anthologies Spaces Between Us: Poetry, Prose, and Art on HIV/AIDS and Southern Poetry Anthology, VII: North Carolina. He is a Pushcart nominee, a past recipient of the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize, and a finalist for the James Wright Poetry Award. Also, he serves as assistant editor for the poetry journal Cave Wall. He resides in High Point, NC, with three rambunctious tuxedo cats.