This poem first appeared in The Antioch Review in Summer of 2010.
Gacela of the Wounds
by Mark Wagenaar
Only a half moon tonight drifting in a starless southern sky, only the half truths it offers— better than a sharp stick in the eye, as my father says, better the desires we struggle against than the listlessness that attends their absence... light at dusk, venous light, a dark red blued as if by skin, no stars but the white catalpas heaping their incense onto the flames, the scent of Paradise from outside its high walls. Better to marry than burn, St. Paul said, he of the second sight & the slaked thirst— which seems only half right, since so much around us burns instead, even the waters we lie down beside, that hurry elsewhere, better its dark music, like the sound of tail feathers pulling free, the sound of a hieroglyph I know I’ve seen written somewhere— graffitied on a subway wall or tattoed along a clavicle, or maybe inside the Court of Nine Petals, one for every heaven— the sound of a thirst for a kiss that tastes of the copper coolness of blood, for a body we will know by its wounds.
Mark Wagenaar is the 2014 winner of The Pinch Poetry Award, & the 2013 winner of the James Wright Poetry Prize, the Poetry International Prize, & the Yellowwood Poetry Prize, and he has recently been named the University of Mississippi’s 2014 Summer Poet in Residence. His debut manuscript,Voodoo Inverso, was the 2012 winner of the University of Wisconsin Press’ Felix Pollak Prize. Recent acceptances or publications include the New Yorker, Field, Image, Ninth Letter, the Chattahoochee Review, the Florida Review, Washington Square, Shenandoah, & the Missouri Review. He and his wife, fellow poet Chelsea Wagenaar, are doctoral fellows at the University of North Texas in Denton. He’s on Twitter @MarkGWagenaar.
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