Jack Grapes Poetry Prize 2019 finalist selected by judge Alexis Rhone Fancher
The extraordinary imagery of this poem, its technicolor brutality, spectacle and regret, and its remarkable ending impressed me from the first reading and kept me coming back. I loved its constraint and musicality. Astonishing.
— Alexis Rhone Fancher
What should I have said to the man
in my grandmother’s backyard after
he emptied its head bright into scorched
grass? Maybe: why isn’t there any blue
before the blood browns or I’d rather
not have watched. That afternoon, I ate
well and my heart was satisfied
beating alone. Tell me how it is to crave
this touch and take it. Your hands on flesh
rising to meet you, opening
up so willingly and closing
around the cleaver. I wouldn’t
know. Someone could love me
and I would seize, expose mooned eyes,
take to closed doors and welcome
home the short breath. This year has
not made me a butcher. I can laugh
in front of my grandmother at picnics
with blood in my throat, remain good
in the sun, around kids.
I clean up after myself, barbeque
what is left after the guests leave.
Throw the scraps to the dogs and watch
as they’re torn apart.