To a Petal South of This Coast

Where I falter under iron glyphs, my stiff shoes

absorb the dark blaze of daisies.

Early moon heads out,

and box kite tails are whipping like streptobaccilli.

Asterisms mimicked in slow-folding inlet,

rippled by copper fish tugging

at lines that crumble at a slant

under lunar-tinted bones: tombstones like baby teeth

easing toward this outland.

You were its ocean. Moth lamps lodged

in backyard ginkos silver toolshed roofs. Nests

of the poorwill are moored to fossilized roots. Unlike cradles

woven for April, these offer

empty comfort, lightly cupping their burden of shade.

Lichens grip the flagstones. Afraid to re-enter through the flesh

where love drove here down dirt roads through showers of gravid blossoms,

you should remember me—I’m telling you this much.


About the Author

Stephen Massimilla is a poet, scholar, professor, and painter. His multi-genre volume, Cooking with the Muse (Tupelo, 2016), won the Eric Hoffer Book Award, the National Indie Excellence Award, the Independent Author Network Book of the Year Award, and others. His recent collection, The Plague Doctor in His Hull-Shaped Hat, was selected in the Stephen F. Austin University Press Prize contest, and his volume Almost a Second Thought was runner-up for the Salmon Run National Poetry Book Award, selected by X.J. Kennedy. He has also received the Bordighera Poetry Prize for Forty Floors from Yesterday (CUNY); the Grolier Prize for Later on Aiaia; a Van Rensselaer Award, selected by Kenneth Koch; multiple Pushcart Prize nominations; and other honors. He holds an M.F.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University and teaches literary modernism, among other subjects, at Columbia University and The New School.