Erin Jones



The night you died, I walked around the yard.
My feet were bare among the lanky strands
of tulip stems, and soil took the hard
ravines of skin inside its own . Your hands
always looked this way, roughed from pulling weeds.
A love for elements that bloomed from grit,
as you once had - an Italian seed
from slums on Chestnut Street. A place where slits
of sidewalk sprouted petals in their rare
and naked form, with their stems bent and hollow
as your own. Digging up the bulb’s silk hair,
you brought them to a window pot to grow.
I let the dirt get trapped beneath my skin –
the only way I know to let you in.

War Hands
His hands are chapped: the thickened pools of palm
are growing stagnant. Once, they were unscarred –
the thin tempo of mothy wing, a calm
addition to the movement of his hard
delinquent mouth. I never stood as still
as I did when he left - just clenching bone
in tightened breaths my lungs too parched to fill.
We once took hell to land, but the single stone
of childhood was fleeting.
His return
was quiet, war unwinding deep beneath
his skin. The world can feel the tender burn
of something ripe secured between his teeth -
his lips a line of white as he hums taps -
his once familiar hands now hardened maps.


Exaltation at Ballet
The moistened dew of movement beads in streams
on blush- bloomed cheeks. Their limbs are arching pools
that fold their bodies tight in fluent seams.
And far away unwinding them like spools
of silk - the violins unbridled call.
It whines in violent beauty like a blade
and trembles in its treble as it falls.
Tonight they dance, their skin a craft of jade
and gritty light, which plays like bruises deep
in bloom - thick hydrangeas I wish to taste.
The sweat is rain, while rain is sweat, and weeps
over the crowd, each body drenched in haste.
The striking bow refuses to retire -
and exaltation spreads like breeding fire.


Phone Call to Home
Her mouth’s a chrysalis where words prepare
to form, caught quick by milky threads of breath -
too humid and specific. Wing tips tear
on teeth of rough enamel - the hot death
of words that were once important. Father said
for her to speak without regret, but that
was back in Omaha before she shed
the Midwest from her skin. His dusty hat
had lingered in the rearview far too long.
But now the things to say were growing dry,
and catching. A late night phone call holds no song
of praise. The wrinkled man just lets out shy
exchanges and talks of Nebraska’s thick heat.
His voice remains the same rough scratch of wheat.


Copyright © 2012 Erin Jones

Erin Jones is an undergraduate at West Chester University. She won first prize in The Lyric 2011 College Contest and second prize in the 2012 Iris N. Spencer Poetry Award. She also has poems forthcoming in the June issue of Mezzo Cammin and the Fall 2012 issue of Tar River Poetry.