My head bristles with the ache of moonlight, the names
of vanished trees we never learned, flies that bejewel
some children’s eyes. This place wants to kill us.
This place wants to kill honeybees, staghorn coral, alligators,

marsh rabbits, swallowtails. When I say The poet’s husband

shot her outside the police station, we mean I should have been killed
at birth. I mean My country hates women. When I mouth another woman’s
lips, the timbre of one string plucked and swept from a cavernous hall

rises between us. This place wants to kill our surrender. When I trace

the geometry of another man’s pelvis, we christen a thirst
for which this place wants no word. This place that longs

to slice out our tongues. My father loved men. Men told my father

he was beautiful. No one else had ever. Not even my mother.

My father never touched another man or me. Only my brother

can say how it felt, my father’s red palm on his face, his back.
This touch they both know. Our lovers drink, hold us like sacrament

in their mouths. Our children know to listen for the rhythm

of stranger’s feet following too close, learn to read
every face. We teach our children this place will kill us all
for living, for breathing the pearled and poisoned air.


Allison Blevins received her MFA at Queens University of Charlotte. She is the author of the chapbooks Susurration (Blue Lyra Press, 2019), Letters to Joan (Lithic Press, 2019), and A Season for Speaking (Seven Kitchens Press, 2019), winner of the Robin Becker Prize. She is the Editor-in-Chief of Harbor Review and the Poetry Editor at Literary Mama. Her work has appeared in such journals as Mid-American Review, the Minnesota Review, Raleigh Review, Sinister Wisdom, and Josephine Quarterly. She lives in Missouri with her wife and three children where she co-organizes the Downtown Poetry reading series. For more information visit


A former John and Renee Grisham fellow, Joshua Davis holds an MFA from the University of Mississippi, an MFA from Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine, and an M.A. from Pittsburg State University. Recent poems have appeared in The Poetry Distillery, The Museum of Americana, and The Midwest Quarterly. He is a doctoral candidate in American Literature at Ohio University, and he lives near Tampa.

Photo by Mark Tegethoff on Unsplash

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