6.02 / February 2011

Two Poems

Blood Orange

I plan on dying young.
Men will toast to my menace,
Classical fanaticism –
crowns, palm leaves from the coast,
my dead hair curled, placed neatly
over a red pillow with citrus spit.

Hold me, the veined crescent,
a precious bit of Jupiter.
It is evocative to eat fruit with
both hands. Do you hate me yet?

You will.
When I die the men will say,

How vicious she was,
dark as a bruise,
how she loved her blood.

A life lived in bitter slices is
rarely impressive. Go down big,
something the boys will remember:
royal apathy, a flesh-eating habit,
sour blood, sweet peel.

The Prophet of Fried Chicken

In Joe’s Chicken Shack
a man is speaking of eternity
among the day-old Posts,
jars of hard-boiled eggs
and pigs’ feet, bottom-feeding fried fish,
old orange cakes, souring Twinkies, speaking
of heaven, yelping prayers to God, the Lord
having his way with the man’s tongue, speaking
Jesus saves! Nourishment saves!
He raises his two drumsticks,
conducting the patron orchestra who are silent
aside from the chew, break of bird bones.
Now the Posts tremble in their cages,
lift their tired gray hands up, sing Jobs, sing News, sing
Features! Obituaries! Arts! Weekend! And the eggs sprout
stubby wings, hustle inside the jar as if drowning
in pickled broth, then push the little ones,
women and children, to the surface as the Twinkies grow
erect with grace, their cream edging out of their marigold
mattresses. In Joe’s Chicken Shack,
a man speaks of eternity.

Shenandoah Sowash's work has appeared in Folio, Poet Lore, Arsenic Lobster, and Epicenter. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Lannan Foundation. Currently a graduate student at the University of Maryland's MFA Program in Creative Writing, she lives in Washington, DC with her husband, Jason, and two cats.
6.02 / February 2011