and because this is a poem about joy, it too must have a river flowing
from its greedy jaws. i have only learned how to speak about joy
as an offering to a god i will never understand. i once watched a fire
hydrant open its locked-turned throat and flood the city in what
i mistook to be the fresh smell of the thornapple; and because
of my own instinct, i expected a school of children, wide in their grins
and teeth fencing about their gums, to swim toward the cracked
basin, searching for salvation, cooling their mouths with the sharp taste
of nickel, and because I am reminded of my childhood, chasing a spitting
sprinkler head in my front yard or of the trips to the houghton lake
that held shores of loose sand that could swallow a child whole but we chose
to stomach the dirt gripped at our feet, treading the deepest palm of the
shallow end while our parents watched from the beach just as how I now
watch these children choosing to defy the act of drowning; typical how
they sought what once killed us, how it is now ailing their dry tongues.
and because this is a poem
about joy, i trust the river
to hold me longer
than could the ocean’s
open barrelled hands.
i trust no god like i do
my own people,
if i am to die, let it be
in the presence
of the ones that
loved me most, let me drown
in their mouths and
through their veins
Added: Friday, October 20, 2023 / Used with permission.
jason b. crawford (They/He/She) is a writer born in Washington DC, raised in Lansing, MI. Their debut full length book, Year of the Unicorn Kidz, is out from Sundress Publications. crawford holds a Bachelor of Science in Creative Writing from Eastern Michigan University. They are a 2023 Lambda Literary Emerging LGBTQ Voices fellow. Their work can be found, or is forthcoming, in POETRY Magazine, Metro Weekly, AGNI Magazine, Foglifter Journal, RHINO Poetry, Four Way Review, The Cincinnati Review, Frontier Magazine, and Beloit Poetry Journal, among others. They hold an MFA in poetry from The New School.
Image Description:jason b. crawford, a Black person with a beard, wears an orange baseball cap, blue jacket, and glasses. jason laughs with their eyes closed, turned slightly away from the camera.