Jay Udall is the author of six books of poetry, most recently Because a Fire in Our Heads, winner of the 2017 X.J. Kennedy Poetry Prize. His work has appeared in publications such as North American Review, Prairie Schooner, Beloit Poetry Journal, Birmingham Poetry Review and Verse Daily. He teaches at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana, where he also serves as poet-in-residence and chief editor of the online journal Gris-Gris.
Two strangers, men, sitting side by side,
traveling through a terror-stricken time,
we are suddenly embarrassed to find
that for many minutes unnoticed
our legs have been pressed together,
enjoying the animal warmth
of their surreptitious contact.
After the Murder of an Old Friend
To make room for minnows
pulsing through water weeds,
for the black-and-rust-furred caterpillar
clinging to a stem.
Room for a half-moon hatching
the afternoon sky,
blue stroking my head,
that other sun
gone somewhere far.
Room for a mockingbird
on the railing a moment,
vines on the roof
of the rotting shed
coming back in green,
flowering yellow—and you
using these eyes.