South Carolina Apollo

By Kelli Allen


We know for certain that cobblestones accept heat

whether we gallop toward the hut or not. Loving

a woman means dying every day, too, and one season

begs another to wait just long enough for us to feast

ahead of any funeral. When the Chinese man asks

where are the strong men? and we turn away

to collect fans and ice for approaching night,

does this point to a new August leaping closer

to blindness, to rotten southern fog? The mosquito

swell is a potbelly before our skin ever puckers

back from a bite we expect, ignore, accept as common—

the way wisdom used to be worn as shirtsleeves.

Ponds fill first in June and our poles say Sunday

prayer under willows, un-walled, all hymns cricket

sung and paddleboat timed. We rescue the trial

to relive the moments before. Snows come fast

and there is wet cedar to remind us what muscles need,

where rough hands rest on the narrow waist of our beloved.

Kelli Allen’s work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies in the US and internationally. She has served as Poetry Editor for The Lindenwood Review and she directs River Styx’s Hungry Young Poets Series. She is currently a visiting professor of English Literature at Northeast Normal University in Changchun, China.

She is the recipient of the 2018 Magpie Award for Poetry. Her chapbook, Some Animals, won the 2016 Etchings Press Prize. Her chapbook, How We Disappear, won the 2016 Damfino Press award. Her full-length poetry collection, Otherwise, Soft White Ash, arrived from John Gosslee Books (2012) and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Her latest collection, Imagine Not Drowning, was released by C&R Press in January 2017. Allen’s new collection, Banjo’s Inside Coyote, will arrive from C&R Press April, 2019.

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