by James Everett

Because last night or a week ago
you asked what was wrong
and I replied nothing, nothing.
My eyes strong to the wall
not seeing, no subtlety, only
one lamp on next to me in bed: and there
was everything I couldn’t share with you
dancing like soundless dreams:
I couldn’t keep focus long enough
to hand those dreams quiet to you.
It didn’t seem enough to hold you to my chest,
all that could be heard and all that couldn’t,
the allergic clutches of your lungs,
rhythmically asthmatic.
Because my alacrity to give is hindered by my silence:
moments and breaths and weeks ago
us newly threadbare, we were stoned
from our lack of clothes, the bed sheets became
obstacles and you were warmth, sex
was strangely perfect, which is to say,
perfectly soundless: our zeal for contentment:
each other. I wake next to you
every morning as daylilies bloom new:
this is my love for you inexpressible,
this imperfect poem, mute. I am mute.
Because I want to sing now,
I want to keep you up for hours.

You asleep against my shoulder is enough,
body curved to body bending.
And when you wake, you tender
more than wish or prayer, all in a whisper.

James Everett says, “Born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, I felt a certain loss of entertainment in my teenage years, and like others, I’m sure, I dreamt of bigger cities.  High school was drinking and parties in cow fields, abandoned lots, construction sites for new subdivisions.  Once a hay barrel was set on fire and to my recollection I never went cow tipping.   I started writing poems I’m not sure when, and left home for Davidson College on a creative writing scholarship.  In the past year or so I’ve worked contracted labor, managed a wine bar, taught at a community college, been a personal assistant and office task force and gardened for money.  Currently, I’m a Grisham Fellow in the M.F.A. program at the University of Mississippi in Oxford.  I live with my dog Zoe, a black mutt and reveler of mud puddles.”

James Everett was nominated for Poets Under 30 by Beth Ann Fennelly.