Subhaga Crystal Bacon


I came of age around water in New Jersey, lakes, streams, boggy ground,
the scent of moisture, wet trees, earth. An hour’s drive away the shore: Sea
Isle, Ocean City, Margate, Avalon—names of mystery, of dreams.
We all drove its suture-like highways, Turnpike, Parkway, south bound they led
to water. Delsea Drive from the Delaware to the Sea, Route 40
the Main Street of America from Utah, to Atlantic City.
We drove and drove, each in our own space. Music and the dash-lights sacred,
as the night slid by greased and shimmering like an oil spill puddle.

On long solitary rides in search of music, poetry, or sex,
adventure and misadventure, Chet Baker crooned about Moon and Sand,
the aftermath of love, what the night had left—I heard the smell of rain—
familiar as the beat of my own salty blood and broken heart.
Only now, on the other side of youth I discover: when the night
has left us, will the spell remain?
Yes, it still carries the scent of rain.



Reading Plath on the Anniversary of Her Death

The Bourbon I sip burns my throat, slips
into bloodstream like frozen snow on bare feet.
The long difficult day closes in pastels,
shades of pink and blue stretched between
the mountains’ peaks—sharp, snowcapped teeth.
It’s a sky-valley smile, shy, rosy lipped,
withholding what it knows. What it knows!

I give up the attempt to prepare, to perform, to write
a poem, all life’s forward movement. I lay
in a chair and read Plath. Cold glass, how you insert
Yourself / Between myself and myself.
inside the glass, I notice I’ve been holding my breath
in my complicit lungs—between myself
and myself
— the air held, then expelled.



Subhaga Crystal Bacon (she/they) is a Queer poet living in rural northcentral Washington on unceded Methow land. She is the author of four collections of poetry including Surrender of Water in Hidden Places, from Red Flag Poetry, and Transitory, forthcoming in the fall from BOA Editions.