Poetry by Jay Aquinas Thompson

Image by Emily Jay / emily-jay.com

From “Like Honey”


3: Blue Spruces Heave
my muse says that contrary        predicates        imply each other:     
person as originator        person as originated /        the match burned my fingers /      
more like this        hot witch I know        at Lottie’s last night     

bumping into the Moon        & buying her a drink        asking her sign /     
looking good baby like        catching an        echo with a
flashlight down the        flaring        chestnut median /

like rinsing the clouds        from the sky        Lord					
October learning the maple’s        menstrual rhythms        I am not worthy
with no things but in ideas /        barefoot        that you should enter

enough for a life of small        good loves        under my roof
like I eat cold chicken        in the dark        but only
like finding an        unseasonable weed in my ear        say the word

through a bunchy        bouquet megaphone        & my soul
like salvaged        thunder        shall be
drinking me in        like intercourse        healed  
but more like counting        the rays of sun        my flesh blocks /
counting how many eras a single limb of        Andrea’s wisteria        splits /
Venus only ever rises in the west        right? /        it’s not always in me

to recognize as holy those        who shade the meanings        who doubt
who invite certain subtleties in /        everlastingly current /        for instance:
it turns out those stunned        & thirsty ghosts among        the mown lawn

are not truly dead        rather G. explains they’re how        we frail living relate
to certain of our        human sorrows /        don’t love astrology /     
there’s nothing in us any        matrix of stone & sweet fire        would stir

toward job success        or fortuitous sex /        the constellations are like
Christ: a pattern        of cold space & collapsing flame        that flies
thoughtlessly apart        the moment we turn our heads

the moment        we change worlds /        time is changeless:
stuff streams by        out eyes’ windows        & things fall
away       & we call        time change /     

but it’s only stuff changing:        stuff in time /        time itself     
lordly & singular        stirs for nobody        no hour starves itself  
for my infected desire /        I use only         plant names I’m sure of—    
Andrea’s wisteria was no        late-season lilac—        but I really don’t
know most names /        on a walk        it’s mostly a seething
nearness of detail        & green rather than        memory /
the rising smell of crushed fir needles like a burning boat
Mary to her poor banished children   
fire at the lash’s fringe
insomnia & her children
the blue crescent warming the kettle
the cloud’s drowse into 3 o’clock twilight		
anguish tamped down
the loose thread of waking body        trailing behind        through some numb
underground hum        I feel a love poem starting        through my fault
through my fault        through my most        grievous rumor

of flesh & blue bone        don’t you bless me? /        through my old-fashioned words
& muscles        & my damaged        unspeakable manners? / I love the rough
alive at-home-ness of your skin        its scars & lacks        its moles & minute motions /

one day        I hope to know        fully as I am fully known / the moon
mattering to the        battered plum / some bare        tight-barked
deciduous thing latticing        the blue sky        lightens later 

leafmolds in the park’s bestial        byways / the cotton you run        your warm
legs through crackles & you flower        unseasonably out       in-
to my mouth /        noise of walnut hulls        windblown 

up the street / lips wine-stained /        ever notice how        your night ends
but the map that carries you through        your night        remains
straining mind        & will toward        retrieval? / 



Jay Aquinas Thompson is a poet, essayist, and critic with recent or forthcoming work in COAST | NoCOAST, Full Stop, Fog Machine, Sprung Formal, Denver Quarterly, The Stockholm Review of Literature, Berfrois, The Conversant, Kenyon Review Online, and Poetry Northwest, where he’s a contributing editor. He lives with his family in Seattle, where he teaches creative writing to incarcerated women.