Back to Issue Twenty-Two.

I Investigate Terraforming in My 30s



Soon enough I find an Earth-like
planet, but how Earth-like is only like, is like

how a kiss may be alike
but isn’t quite,

or how every photo from Kentucky—
how you used to sigh—is only

now a likeness. Or how this bandaged light
upends the bruise that became

the sky: I liked you, I like liked
you. And we held each other

as we made our child-
hoods hush; we strained

to merge like trees into a custom. We held
to each other’s hands

even when our notes
were misaligned. We would,

without half-trying, alight one upon the other.
What is gravity to our horns? We reached

and tore each other plain as walls
or erstwhile countries,

and the dream became a sun,
beneath me, the land, the fade

of wing,  my every instrument
a lyre’s vital music, my every simile, a flame.






love it’s only gotten worse my father can’t stop
saying your name like a war his nation lost or a miracle

that saved him from an undertow unprompted
you rise like a body from a lake before dinner

grace has never been more biblical than in the gasp
about your name the quiet

being the inverse of a heartbeat i depended on a season
for which there is no dress and i say yeah

and i say yeah dad but you love are a tragedy
in my father’s eyes my reflection having just shaved

my skin is tender i say before he can say
i remember yes she was just like that i cannot change

that i remember my love i swallow
my hands everyday taking the place of your hands on the table



the way i hold my hands



I can’t imagine my father wishing he would rather be
anything. Once upon a time, he was a watermelon
growing from a box. His mother died. His father beat
the blood out of him, and teardrops dripped black
from his face into his food. My father’s father made him eat
his dinner through himself, the Miracle Whip salad spangled
like dew in the garden. This isn’t a figure of speech: my father ate
his blood. It’s hard to think he must have been young. He made me stop
all my life. He told me to not to be a girl. Whatever I was doing,
of course I stopped. He kissed me on the top of the head
before I went to bed each night. He was always there. He read
to my brother, he read to me from a book of animals. This is a fox’s paw.
This is a bear’s. He told me, I’ll give you something
to cry about. He never touched me. Bear claw, I said. Winters are easier
for bears. I spread my fingers over his. No, my father said.


Keith S. Wilson is an Affrilachian Poet, Cave Canem fellow, and graduate of the Callaloo Creative WritingWorkshop. He has received three scholarships from Bread Loaf as well as scholarships from MacDowell, the Millay Colony, Poetry by the Sea, Ucross, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. He currently serves as Assistant Poetry Editor at Four Way Review and Digital Media Editor at Obsidian Journal.

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