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literary journal poetry Uncategorized

Speeding Through East Texas

Despy Boutris’s writing has been published or is forthcoming in Copper Nickel, American Poetry Review, The Gettysburg Review, Colorado Review, The Journal, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. Currently, she teaches at the University of Houston and serves as Poetry Editor for Gulf Coast, Guest Editor for Palette Poetry and Frontier, and Editor-in-Chief of The West Review.

Speeding Through East Texas

Day three on the road, the sky
opts to explode, rain spattering
the windshield, the highway
beginning to drown. In this state,
even the rain is unfamiliar,
the sight of green, roadside
plants, plains, no hint of smoke
swelling in the distance.
If California is a hike up
the Headlands—or maybe a car
caught on fire—then this place
is a dress left to mildew,
scent of exhaust. I like the green,
grass watered with thunderstorms,
so maybe I won’t miss living
three miles from the sea,
from everything I know. Maybe
I can survive this place
unknown, this rain washing
away my ruin, softening
my tensed muscles,
my scaffolds of bone.

All These Soft, Warm Nights Going to Waste

On this full-mooned night, the sky is alight,
the road glows, the stars dangle like tinsel

on last year’s tree, hinged
to the endless season of sky. You hear an echo

in the air, over the late-night road,
in the mating calls of the frogs leaping

by the lake. It’s nearly spring, and wind is irregular
breath—the time her hand found the fossa

behind your knee. That hitch. That heat.
And you remember the wildflowers that sprung up

from soaked earth, turned loverlike, intertwined,
only for their petals to fray

and brown. Only to hang their heads, mourning
the winter. How you winter the lack—

the absence of the one you want.
You consider this bright, cratered thing,

bone-white as the thigh your fingers ghosted over.
Moonstruck, you eye this glow as you sway

on your axis, knowing, far away, she sees it too—
a thought that craters you.

Distance

I wake up alone
to the sound of the city
sirens and think of home.
Of the quiet.
Of that night
we jumped the fence
to the plum-orchard.
How the sun lingered
on the cusps of clouds
and the locusts hummed
with the thrum of our pulses.
How our lungs heaved
the heavy air.
How I wanted you
to the point of frenzy:
soiled fruit falling
from my shaking hands.
Of your arm slung
around me as we walked.
How I laid my head
on your hip, your hand
in my hair, my fingertips
tracing your palm, your calluses
rimmed with rust,

now so much like us.

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