Martin Cathrae CC
Poetry the way he entered the world,
he uncoiled casually, stumping
how deeply his roots were fixed:
Some are born a willow, some an oak,
arms overhead to demonstrate
how trees flex their bodies.
We raced motorcycles, camped hollers,
skinny-dipped quarries, spit
watermelon seeds, snitched cigarettes
and hits off his daddy’s Jim Beam bottles.
He grew to favor throaty blues,
flask in his pocket, joint behind his ear,
Oxy and Vikes, just for fun,
his laughter addictive, women
all ages loved his badass.
This morning brittle branches spike
jagged shadows across his neglected lawn,
the sky bruised like a drug-addled vein.
I cock my head, wait for some
perfect sound, the silence so heavy
cicadas pause their keening.
Kari Gunter-Seymour is the Poet Laureate of Ohio. She is a recipient of a 2021 Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship. Her previous collections are A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen (Sheila Na Gig Editions, 2020), which won the 2020 Ohio Poet of the Year Award, and the chapbook Serving (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2018). Her poems have appeared in numerous journals and publications including Rattle, ONE, and The New York Times. Her work has also been featured on Verse Daily, World Literature Today and Poem-a-Day. A ninth generation Appalachian, she is the founder/executive director of the Women of Appalachia Project (WOAP) and editor of the WOAP anthology series, Women Speak. She is the founder, curator, and host of Spoken & Heard, a seasonal performance series featuring poets, writers, and musicians from across the country.
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