"Dear Federico" by Jory Mickelson

Jory Mickelson

Jory Mickelson

Jory Mickelson’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Sundog Lit, Weave Magazine, Fjords Review, The Collagist, The Los Angeles Review, The Adirondack Review and other journals. He received an Academy of American Poet’s Prize in 2011 and was a 2013 Lambda Literary Fellow in Poetry. He is also the 2014 Guest Poetry Editor for Codex Journal. You can follow him on Twitter @poetryphone.

Dear Federico

It’s late. I’ve stood for hours
watching swallows strike
and swivel at the insects’
commas. The certain
circling they commit to
feed themselves. We first
acknowledged one another
on the bridge above their frenzy,
in the growing dark. We tethered
together, all pause and follow,
while streetlights burst
amber over tulip poplars
that guide the river’s dark cord.

On the empty steps
of my apartment, you offer
me a cigarette and I take
it simply to touch your hand,
even though I haven’t smoked
in years. Federico, I don’t understand
your poems with their silver-
lipped volcanoes and your
obsession with the dangers
of the moon: all salted, all boot
crushed, all clovered in mold.

As if I dreamt the careful linen
of your shirt, the undoing of the black
slick of your hair in the concrete’s shy
heat. I was afraid you’d mistake
my hesitation for the bleeding of juniper
into the air, the long tongue of the sky
refusing, a zipper’s seam split open.