Issue 1:2 | Poetry | Adrian Blevins
THE MAGNIFICENCE OF RAIN
 
Since I thought you had to be self-murderous or homosexual
 
if you had literary aspirations and since ambition was the main venom
in my young-person heart and I was as smiling-obliging as a salesman in Atlanta
if I was after something I thought I wanted,
 
I tried one day to be a lesbian. 
 
The point of sex during that era was to trick men out of their indifference
and make them love me within twenty-four hours.  The point of sex
during that era was to make men bow down to the princess I thought I was
 
and moreover abandon their mothers and moreover their automobiles. 
 
I wanted men to beg me to take them back
even if I had not abandoned them yet.  I wanted them to take me for a wife
so I could decorate their cabins with myself in the kitchen baking bread
 
or myself nude on the couch with my hair as fierce as slaughter. 
 
Thus my woman-lover's tongue did nothing for me.  The women on this earth? 
We are all befuddled.  Even that one so long ago—that trial lover with the petite hands
who said I was too magnificent for men.  She was quite
 
mistaken.  I am just a cold body wailing my rain all over this world.
 

 
XANTHE, THE MASTER GARDNER, DIES AT 50
OF AN UNHAPPY MARRIAGE
 
If I have a bird's nest in my heart, it is not made of fig leaves,
since I have never seen a fig tree as such flora won't grow here
 
and I have never been anywhere else.  To imply that fig trees
grew in this piece of Virginia would perjure me
 
before the esteemed clubs and alliances of the malcontented homebodies
who have certificates of Garden Knowledge in heaven. 
 
My friend Xanthe for example died in January when everything was latent
because what she hated, besides her husband with his pitiless theories
 
about everyone opting for whatever they got, was the winter. 
More rightly, what Xanthe hated was herself for not knowing twenty years ago
 
how she'd come to feel about her husband the week before she decided
she'd rather die than look at him an extra second, since being young was pass´┐Ż
 
and anyway impossible, like the quilt her mother never gave her,
which matched exactly in shape and color the antique locket
 
her father also never gave her, since he just walked out one day
and never came back.  If I have a bird's nest in my heart, it is not even made
 
of wisteria vine, though we planted wisteria out back against the fence,
wanting, in other words, a Spanish-style manor in California—
 
oh please just give me and my baby some endless days of heat
and by this means some west coast plants so we can buy an encyclopedia
 
that names for a living the names of trees not-cypress, not-scrub-pine,
not-spruce.  Or Xanthe!  Xanthe would say my bird's nest heart
 
is not made of bottle caps or lost Emu hair or the torn-off scraps
of failed compositions.  Xanthe would ridicule the whole bird's nest metaphor
 
entirely.  She'd tell me my heart was a muscle of buoyant bloody cells,
then blow the spent leaf of a living thing far-off and away.
 

 
THE LAST LAP OF THE DAYTONA 500
 
When Dale Earnhardt dies, I'm standing in Uncle Doc's kitchen,
listening to the men put across the woe of the penalty of NASCAR. 
Since this is the day of Ann's funeral and most of us have driven a long way
to hear the Episcopalians in their smart white robes say all but nothing
about Ann who lived among us our entire lives as we ourselves lived among us
since she was also us, it seems to the men unfeasible that beyond Ann's death
there's now the death of Dale Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt. 
 
Before the wreck (get this) I was writhing as only I would
that the men were watching the race while the women prepared some casseroles. 
Unlike Ann, I was writhing.  Then the knock and the spin and the splash
of the crash, and even if the men didn't drop their glasses and fall to their knees
and weep, you could tell that's what they were after with all their hollering. 
Knowing that made me think that the empty winter trees looked like nerve endings
as we drove from Ann's casket and the immaculate church there below
 
the sun.  The winter trees know there's no sense in trying to change people. 
Oh, uncles, cousins, fathers, brothers: sit in your chairs all week long
and mourn the death of the great stock car racer Dale Earnhardt, if you want. 
This poem reviles instead the rubbish Episcopalians speak in small Virginia chapels
re: my mother's sister Ann who died of a hard-working, charitable heart
while downstairs in the dark Earnhardt blazed in churning spheres of counterfeit light. 
 
 
Adrian Blevins