Back to Issue Forty-One

Today You Will Not Die a Horrible Death


No drowning no opiates. No body no hands in this body no fingers in this body
brutish no. No bombers, no. Neither enemies nor entreaty against force: instead say eased
to an ending. Say eased into it. No sharp report no red lights lit
underground no claxon no. Say a type

of mending, even if it was too late for mending. Not like an animal left to street, god not
like the little ones with cracked lips. No drowning, no teeth, no stutter in aim, no simple neglect
no. No hands in this body, no bouncing betties sculpting
this field, no new virus. Say: the light there

and a smell like strawberries. Say simply even snow. No ordnance no, no knife
no, please no knife in my body no kalashnikov suicide strychnine no. Please
no. No more hands in my body.



If It Gives, It Gives


I might cut a path through this high grass, shoots
downright red with life, damp with it. Leaves trampling

over each other like bodies on the beachheads of history,
their color a currant against the breakdown of those

beneath. Ash drifts as moths. Let me follow this path
through this same field again sometime. Will I still find

all this so hard? Will I stop to lick the copper where grass
slashes living lines in my legs? Will I feel it then?



As Yesterday and Tomorrow We Await War, So the News is War as Always


I asked what they’ll do once I’m done, why alone they
must go in this world full of thorns and scorpion holes.

This world bones and salts. In the sun I lose the borders
of my body, my smell pulls into sandstone, disappears

into washes where poisons run, beetles with bright legs,
sharp grasses and nightshades. Even still here, still trying,

still breaking, I can’t change anything—this one body
is just another root struggling to slow the whole earth.


CJ Evans is the author of Lives, which was selected by Victoria Chang for the Kathryn A. Morton Prize and will be published by Sarabande Books in June 2022. His other works include A Penance (New Issues Press) and The Category of Outcast, selected by Terrance Hayes for the Poetry Society of America’s New American Poets chapbook series. He has received the Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship, and he’s currently the editor in chief of Two Lines Press, a publisher of international literature in translation.

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