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TWO POEMS by syan jay


Embrace the damp fur of home, with lungs perforated

by decay and oak. Bury your face in its mane, feel the

old teeth brushing your hairline. This is your corrupted

hound: a braying half acre of tobacco leaf and wrought

iron ribcage. He is too large for your arms to curl around.

Ride it like the wild sheep until the bell sounds, releasing

yourself back into the soft dust and your mother’s brave

and public embrace. Forget the nomads who once low-

burned the grass to feed the earth, their homesteads west

past the railway tracks. This is the path your cousins took

on the way home from school, now serving as the linear

graveyard for the eldest with body embedded in a metal

mouth. This is the tributary between the high corn and

a supermarket. You could bury yourself into the lungs of

the old beast, the sad hometown hero of mangy hides.

Forget that this all had a future—it was long buried by the

fathers unable to save their coal and bourbon-kiss. You

will never look as good as when you wore overalls, hair

thick with grease like your hometown hound. Despite

sharing its animal body, you will never see how the night

falls behind its canines, the lockjaw of holding on for dear

life. Do try to remember: even the dying will fight until

it is left with a clipped ear and its right eye sewn-closed.


here the world is wildly inescapable

its fun-loving fingers dipped in

sunshine with flowers that blossom like your

mother’s scones in the oven everything here

is pristine even in its violence everything

has a place even if it lacks a home

we learn that place

usually means a graveyard more than a front porch

we know it will be years before we

have a backyard that is ours and ours alone except

for the stray cat who chases the birds

we let him stay he reminds us of impermanence

and the obstinate nature of the killer that

we are still hiding from ourselves

so we plant poppies to

create a garden of bloody

seed and petals that guises our worst intentions

in the sweet smell of crushed

bodies that we murder in the fall

and feel no sense of guilt since nothing

could survive our mercy anyways.


SYAN JAY is an agender, Dzil Łigai Si'an N'dee (White Mountain Apache) poet who lives in Boston. You can find them on Twitter @moira__j, or at


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