by Saeed Jones
He puts my hand against his chest
to his nipple and read the lines on my palm
He insists in his certain voice
that the beat in his chest isn’t a beat at all
but an echo: the sound of two fearful feet
heading down into some poorly lit cave
made of bats and blood-red gems.
He tells me again. He’s told me before.
The feet walk slower the farther down they go.
No, I say taking my hand back.
It’s a heart. It’s always been a heart.
I say it once for him, once for myself.
He steps back and looks at me:
he needs to tell me the story again.
I stopped by my local used book store the other day, and bought a copy of Saeed Jones collection of poetry titled Prelude to Bruise, in which the poem, The Fabulist is found. I had never heard of Saeed Jones, but as luck would have it listening to NPR on Saturday there was an interview with Saeed Jones promoting his new memoir, How We Fight For Our Lives. Jones is a powerful writer with an interesting perspective. I am enjoying his poetry and look forward to picking up a copy of his memoir.
I find it interesting that Jones is using some elements of the sonnet structure in some of his poems. He obviously does not feel constrained to follow the “rules” of sonnets precisely but it no coincidence both of these poems are fourteen lines.
I very much enjoy Jones’ story telling in his poetry. He paints with a vivid pallet of words and goes in unexpected directions within his poems. The line from A Memory; “Alive, how many nights did I spend knelt between the knees of gods and men begging for rain, rent and reasons to remain?” has a whole novel’s worth of ideas in that one sentence. If you are looking for a answer from a reader, on reasons to remain, I’ll offer one: remain so that you can keep writing and by doing so, making our world a more thoughtful and beautiful place.
by Saeed Jones
When they finished burying me, what was left of me
sent up a demand like a hand blooming in the fresh dirt:
When I’m back, I want a body like a slash of lightning.
If they heard me, I couldn’t hear their answers.
But silence has never stopped me from praying.
Alive, how many nights did I spend knelt between
the knees of gods and men begging for rain, rent,
and reasons to remain? A body like the sky seeking
justice. A body like light reaching right down into the field
where you thought you could hide from me.
They’ve taken their bald rose stems and black umbrellas
home now. They’ve cooked for one another, sung hymns
as if they didn’t prefer jazz. I’m just a memory now.
But history has never stopped me from praying.