poem: Chavisa Woods

poem: Chavisa Woods


Time Isn’t After Us




the remnants of heart muscles may appear as cornfields when baked in the exposure of
successive country noons


our fleshmounds were given
screaming to screaming,
fed red meat early ,    sent  out to dig                   claws in the scratched dirtback of earth,
our brilliant eyes begging satellite Jesus in the stars to return
before we grew into fields
beadsheet smooth and soiled in the fertile corner of poverty sucking wallmarts throbbing at splitlane intersections
when the time came, we got smacked      civilized,   threatened with factories and hell


They dressed us comfortably and sent us to school.


We began to die like foxes eating ourselves away;


(two hundred fifty children total made up the ninth to twelfth grades in a town of only one thousand)


my freshman year, Josh
got depressed and rammed his hot wheel at eighty in a twenty,
twisting his car around the American flag pole
in the town triangle (we didn’t have a square, we had a triangle)
set between warring gas stations
he was sixteen and they say his head
smashed clear though the hole in the steering wheel
like the wane reduction of a cat
slipping between impossible openings


the girls got dressed up to cry in the tiled halls
russet of distressed school birds
and we all discovered who had really loved him
before they slew each other over which one
wore the most scandalous skirt to the funeral


my freshman year also, Justin, drowned in the charming creek
while swimming with my two lovers,
the cops accused them
of murdering their best friend,
three boys strange for the town
three atheists discovering mortality in the water


the two who lived
started smoking
anything that burned; grass, leaves, rock,
held knives to throats, one joined the army, one bought bombs online,
then they married sisters


my Sophomore year, Candy
who looked like a sweet thing to be unwrapped
jumped in front of a bus, but missed
and broke her supple leg in two,
the next week, her mother’s boyfriend
was arrested for statutory rape
and the boys stopped making the joke,
birthed in the fifth grade;
“Where’ve you been?”
“On top of Candy Hill,”
which was her full name
my Junior year, Blaine
sucked the hot barrel
of a gun after blowing
the fine white globe
of his two year old daughter’s skull
to star bits like a wish
for freedom
his ex girlfriend and baby’s mother
threatened the school populous with unnamed punishment
if they attended his funeral


her daughter’s crib was so small
and the mother only eighteen,
a thin succession of lines
meeting at a shivering torso,
with eyes wider and more brilliant
than the lunacy of clear country nights,
bent mourning a dead child
over SAT’s


my Senior year, Chad, Blaine’s younger brother
said he would kill my faggot ass
using an ice pick
to jab out my eyes, then work it around a little
to see what I was made of


I had no reason
to find his threats empty, but
inexplicably, he didn’t kill me
no one at my school died that year, or came close
(I can’t help thinking
that was my year)


but that year, a three year old boy
was swallowed by the snake
his parent’s kept in the living room aquarium
two miles from my house,


we tossed our hats, red disks in the air may appear as un-burst aneurisms when celebrating escape


within three years, of those who stayed:
Angie                                                          opened a beauty salon and is happy
Jay                                                               began spying on unions for Wal-Mart
Tim, Travis, Jed and Kerry                                          went to Iraq
Sean                                                             became a pot dealer
Jill                                                                teacher
Thomas                                                        prison
Samantha, the valedictorian
of the class below me
Ode’d from Heroin and Meth
on her beige sofa
next to her crying infant


the town blamed the Mexican
man she’d married,
they sent him to jail
I’m not sure for what
drug possession maybe,
and everyone
complained that the Mexicans were ruining this town


Bobby, the first boy I ever kissed, in a game of spin the bottle,
dropped dead from syphilis while working on a car


Elizabeth married Kurt, knocked his teeth out, got a restraining order
then let him back in,
her child died on the bed at two, while his brother was jumping

cornfields may appear as the remnants of arteries when dried

in the exposure of successive country noons


many things appear indicative of the vascular


even the small white houses
cherry buds of incomprehensible retaliation


you might not like to pick
and burst between finger and thumb


the residue


when baked on the exposure of bare hands below successive American noons
may appear insolvent in relation

to the promise of life

is a Brooklyn based author whose work pushes boundaries of class culture, gender, literature and sexuality. Her debut collection of short stories, “Love Does Not Make me Gentle or Kind” (Fly By Night Press, 2008) was a Lambda Literary Award Nominee for Debut Fiction. Chavisa Woods is the recipient of the 2009 Jerome Foundation Award for emerging writers.  Chavisa Woods has featured as a reader with a number of renowned institutions and festivals. She featured in a performance series, which ran for five days at The Whitney Museum in New York City, as a member of the Chorus of Poets. She has also been featured at the New York Vision Festival as well as the New York Hot Festival in multiple years. Woods’ poetry short stories and essays have been published nationally and internationally in a number of magazines and journals. She is currently completing her first full-length collection of poetry as well as her first novel and second work of fiction.