Emma Bolden

Two Poems

Within the Revolution Come Undone

Hadn’t we asked ourselves / wasn’t there winter
were there midnight birds / was the sky
a night’s home / and when I had given my all

I could answer / my breast was an open
door / my sword was a tongue / didn’t we always
mean metaphorically / were there miracles or
at least ash trays / did anyone beg please / let

these evenings and lightnings be / enough / inside
every syllable was leaf / without tree / were there
raincoats or chlorine tablets / were there armies

in coats white under sun / was I who I was when
I was afraid / under the hush / was a fallen crowd
I had packed my antibiotics / I had a familiar / sense
of terrain / were there ever thunderheads / secrets

I answered / the dove was a finger / the devil a nest
pointed up / towards the heaven where this body falls
heavy / leaves behind an aching / like any memory

Excavation, Exhibition

Of the year we wore leather & guitar music sweet with distortion
I remember the taste of peppermint bright as teeth, as the lime
balanced on gin’s balcony. When the train trestle tired of its own
gravity, it unglassed every window until I couldn’t sing or

break or sleep, I couldn’t stop door locks, blood, recognition,
pallor & the lofi buzz of forever translated into the language
of that radio, that same damn Aerosmith song. I was in love &
everything mattered & meant that I missed a man, displayed on

lawns & car hoods & parking lots, gassed & stationed. I saw
him in the same way I saw the museum. Displayed inside glass:
a man who lived to be dead. For five thousand years snow was
gentlesweet, preserving him as skin & tufts once-was-hair. & the self

I couldn’t love looked & head-shaking said doesn’t he look like last
night’s chicken, & all through ancient Greece & by the Rosetta
stone, under the marble men who’d lost their arms but kept
their laurel leaves & penises, I couldn’t stop thinking, why would

he & I & time & light never be a beauty or jewel-lasting of a thing.
I could’ve lived for a forever & another forever glassed inside hope,
which is always a lie, gentlesweet, preserving. I could’ve lived framed
in the grays of the photograph he took after he’d refused to light

my cigarette, he centered me in the cross-hair of his lens, he said never
start & then you’ll never have to stop & I thought if I believed enough
that could mean I love you.