Devin Kelly earned his MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and co-hosts the Dead Rabbits Reading Series in New York City. He is the author of the collaborative chapbook with Melissa Smyth, This Cup of Absence (Anchor & Plume) and the books, Blood on Blood (Unknown Press), and In This Quiet Church of Night, I Say Amen (forthcoming 2017, ELJ Publications). He has been nominated for both the Pushcart and Best of the Net Prizes. He works as a college advisor in Queens, teaches at the City College of New York, and lives in Harlem.
There's a woman on the block who signs
herself each time she passes the church,
stride unbroken, gaze cross-bound, toward wood
& snare of binding.
Sometimes the moon wakes naked up the night,
finds its rest of skin-shine & bone at the top
of a mountain cloaked in dark.
I am so much blood inside. Rivers turn
through tissue. There is no light there.
It must be joyous at skin break, rupture
as a kind of dawn.
I drink wine now & think of transubstantiation,
mulling my tongue along its roof
to taste for iron. I want to be
stronger, the good book's binding
before it opens. If I am read, I long
to be read well.
We say the heart has chambers & we let
people live inside. When we die, they climb
out our mouth & stitch it closed
with eyelash & silk, ash of skin & dust.
There is language here. Light as both
verb & noun. The wake of world
as the first breath of morning
& the gathering before its funeral.
There's a man poking a hole into a slice
of bread, he says, to make a bagel.
What we know can be given different names.
There's a cross. There's a cross of wood.
There's a cross between who you are
& who you want to be. You sit alone
to decide the rest of your life. Outside
a woman crosses toward a cross
where she says someone let their body
die & we came pouring out.