Back to Issue Thirty-Three



he loves to color the world a sugar-poem
         draws an atlas with the reds of himself
         attracted to his own whistle womb
         bursting and slewing without

boyhood hangs tight on him
         wet, iced blue to his ribs storming with wind

this is how he comes to define beautiful:
weeping willows,circles, the number twelve, duct tape, the color pink, clean school uniforms,
         toothbrush bristles, gas smells at the wawa, yellowthroats, silly putty, recycling bins, both
         of the t’s in poinsettia, airports, rug burns, mario kart, pretending to drown in the
         community pool, bike tires, anything that begins with the letter q, truffle beds, trampolines,
         lollipop rings, his brother’s pet lizard bobo, triple-tiered german chocolate cake, christmas
         carols, blackberries, ​now that’s what I call music! ​karaoke sets, dahlia beds,

                             one he saw like gold pushing up from the sun soil
                                               it is growing for him

picks it up by the roots, delicate

this is all he needs
                    to hold beautiful in between his fingers, like a cave
and have it carry him home
to his parents

what he knows:
         they do not want to know their flowering boy
         or how he loves beauty into every inhale

his mother, a torn beak
         time stretches her across skin until it plucks
         braille tongue and bleak lips

his father, a deep claw
         age rips across his face until it sinks down
         brillo clutch and grating fingers

both, arbitrators of some kind of fact, an absolute knowing
         he does not want their cauterized, billowed, braking

both, defenders of a seedless earth that will not break open for him
         he has no interest in squawking necks at war with clicking tongues

the truth:
his blooming is not in red hands nor tiny graves
he lowers his head at stones, but doesn’t know why

every night he will dry his smoky eyes
hear the trembling of an anthropocene
and tuck his dahlia beneath his head

                            wakes up beside the questions
                            breathing gently into those things: beautiful, good, agreeable

this is how he comes to define big:
        crapshoots thrown against cracks
big white everythings with no beginning or end
blue, black, green, brown
mighty cavities of a golden god

one morning brought him a new brink
his dahlia has dried, crumbled under his pillow
when he picks it up he sees that it has turned into
sulfur biting back down into its own veins                                   he cries

its pistol-whip petals are withered down

this is how he will come to define words empty like beautiful:
those things that refuse to stay gold and stain
and fragment underneath his

Miyah Powe is from Bowie, Maryland and a recent graduate from Bucknell University, where she received a B.A. in Literary Studies and Creative Writing. She was recently awarded the Julia Fonville Smithson Memorial Prize in poetry.


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