Size / / /

The man in the wine shop gives me half a glass
of sweet French red, tells me it's been popular
at weddings. He blithely calls it port, but I can't
help but think: It's madeira in a stained pink dress.
I carry one slim bottle beneath my arm just as far
as the spirits section at the back. I confess
it's a share of Guyana rum that I'm really after.
Fifteen-year aged in an oak cask is the stuff
on which my dreams are made and broken,
unless you count the time, five vodka shots
and several tons of knife-edged heartbreak later,
I locked myself in Brian and Jody's loo and shouted
at an imaginary dead boy for half an hour. It's true
that I'm built for heartbreak, and so I raise
this toast to friends loved, lost, and about
to be lost. Death has always wanted me closer
than those she steals from my arms. It's you
that I can never hope to save, and so I'll tell
this story before I forget: as a child, I drowned
off North Carolina. I remember the crush of water
in my lungs and the vicious sting of salt
all the sun-shot way down. I remember the calm
that stole over me less than half a minute before
I hit the sand and choked up her gifts to me, grief
before glory. You're the ferryman now, she said.

And, fool that I am, I believed it.

A.J. Odasso's poetry has appeared in a variety of publications, including Sybil's GarageMythic DeliriumMidnight EchoNot One of UsDreams & NightmaresGoblin FruitStrange HorizonsStone TellingFarrago's WainscotLiminalityBattersea ReviewBarking Sycamores, and New England Review of Books.  A.J.'s début collection, Lost Books (Flipped Eye Publishing), was nominated for the 2010 London New Poetry Award and was also a finalist for the 2010/2011 People's Book Prize. Their second collection with Flipped Eye, The Dishonesty of Dreams, was released in 2014; their third-collection manuscript, Things Being What They Are, was shortlisted for the 2017 Sexton Prize.  They hold an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Boston University, where they were a 2015-16 Teaching Fellow, and work at the University of New Mexico.  A.J. has served in the Poetry Department at Strange Horizons since July 2012.
%d bloggers like this: