The poetry of Sage

For The Boy Who Taught Me How To Say No

a tower of light       a boy swallows a star       a fox
breaks through a cage       its nine tails wag over
the blood-soaked earth       this is where grieving
is left       in the teeth of those who pick our bones
after the battle is done       there is nothing won
a mason uses a chisel to carve runes in a traitor’s ribs
a river of lamps       the hawk follows the lightning
into the water and strikes a fish       the fish leaps
to a bear’s waiting mouth       this is the water it knows
running in fluid streams from jaws it has escaped once
before       rather the jaws than the talons unknown

a glass of water       let me be clear       a glass
untouched for decades lying in a field       filled
and refilled by the rains       bison come to drink
from it and stare into their own black eyes deeper
than clouds above       the traitor flees into a glass
into the bottom of a bottle       he drowns under hands
he’s held his whole life       hands he’s let go      one
by one       at the center of a whirlpool is a red glow
a boy holding himself hostage       a boy reaching
through water       someone pushes his back       right
between his shoulder blades       right behind his heart




i gave my mom a book of poems from the fifteenth
century, written by italian poets of the aristocracy.
what if i’m not ready? she said. no one ever is, i said.
she was confused about the topics covered by these
ancient men and women. how did they know about
cars and pyramid schemes back then? she said. they
knew the same way we know trains will hover and
the mafia will run the governments of the world,
i said. god, she said, this book is a fairy tale of
cannibalism. yes, i said. the best ones mention
consumption almost exclusively. the water drop
of your life is beginning to plunge from the top
of the waterfall. it’ll rejoin the river soon enough.
i raised you all wrong, she said. i never gave you this
experience, now you’re giving it to me. you raised me
exactly right, i said. you gave me nothing to expect,
and i expect nothing of the world. it moves through
us like wind. will it always be like this? she said.
most of the time, i said. sometimes the prince of
grief will join us. when he does, she said, will
you be there with me to make it easier? no, i said.
this is a journey we take alone. we all face the prince
eventually. it’s up to us to figure out what to say.

Sage studies poetry at Elms College, where they have also been awarded the Blue House fellowship. Their poetry appears/will appear in Ellis Review, figroot press, Glass: A Journal of PoetryNorth American Review, Penn Review, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, and elsewhere. Short fiction forthcoming from The Binnacle. They can be found on Twitter @sagescrittore.

One comment

  1. Evidently, despite talent, education, and intelligence, when one is taught to expect nothing, nothing is all one can ever come to expect.


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