Back to Issue Forty

The Deep Hours



It is the month we mother
a broken-winged moth
with honey-water in a tiny dish

upon our bedside table,
a mulberry leaf balanced
on the lip as a bridge.

I dream of Whitman
in a sexy nurse’s outfit

bending over soldiers’ beds
and cooing, the old cougar.

I wake nightly, one body
among millions,

inhaling the sweat
of jasmine or moonflower
like smoke signals,

the precinct ablaze
two thousand miles closer to the river,
flowing sweet across the continent.

Tongue enough nectar
and the archetype darkens,
Walt becomes Emily,

Michael becomes M,
death turns desire,

the saguaro-sucking bat
crosses borders in the name
of birth and ritual,

and still extinction
reasons itself on.

I have committed crimes.
I have lived the fictions of the state.

Now I am asking the moths for absolution.

Now they are flattening their bodies,
wedging themselves
into the sealed jars in the pantry,

the great storehouse.
The asking is not enough.

They are showing us the way.



Michael Mlekoday lives in the Putah Creek watershed of California, where they serve as Poetry Editor of Ruminate Magazine and teach classes on hip-hop, Gothic literature, and wilderness poetics. They are a National Poetry Slam Champion and the author of two books: All Earthly Bodies (2022) and The Dead Eat Everything (2014).

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