Bridge to Global Literature

Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

Poems by Jeffrey Haskey-Valerius

Sep 11, 2021 | Poetry | 0 comments

Saltwater

Yesterday the sea slept at my
feet. Today there is a barrel. Without

knowing why, I need to siphon the entire ocean into this vessel—
and I cannot use my hands. In the open wound

of my mouth, it tastes of rot and the greasy
slabs of deli meat after my

grandfather’s viewing. How we grieve
for the whole world when whales wash ashore,

overheated and no longer
buoyant; how we

grieve for the collective
sky when stars fall, one by one by

one. Once, when I was eight, I thought I
was dying because I could not wake from a dream.

Even after the angel of sleep finally let me go, her clay hands
crumbling as they loosened, I still wasn’t free. It was

the first time I can remember wondering
if I could order death like

an ice cream cone.
Suck it into

me
through

gritted teeth
like the

stale bathwater
I had always

loved
to taste.

__

What to Do with All This Flesh?

He picks at me
the way my mother

used to pick lice
from my hair,

plucks every plume
from my flesh

till I am exposed
and black with

frostbite. I give
birth here: to lambs

that will never
know my name,

to verse that will
bleat wretched

freedom, long
after I am gone.

__

 

Jeffrey Haskey-Valerius (he/him) is an author and poet in the Midwestern US. His work has been anthologized, and his poems and fiction have appeared in or are forthcoming from Rust + Moth, Apricity Press, Northern New England Review, Chiron Review, and elsewhere. He is on Twitter @jeffreyvalerius and online at jeffreyhaskey-valerius.com

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