Kerry James Evans


Each bite brings you closer
to a beginning that has yet to begin,
and why you keep eating
has little to do with how juicy
or sweet it tastes. Since
a child you were taught to finish
what you start, and this,
like your job, like your marriage,
the laundry reeking
in its cloth bag—it’s easier
to finish a nectarine. Besides,
with time, the big things
end themselves, and
like this nectarine, if left alone,
it will rot on the tree. But
if you pick it when it’s ripe?
If you put it to your sunburned lips—



I spent the better part
of the morning banging pots
and pans in the kitchen,
pretending to prepare
breakfast, when Renee
finally woke up, and said,
What the hell, James?
I said, I know, I know.
And she, with impossible
restraint, said, Well?
And I said, The dream.
I can’t do it today.

And she told me, Sure,
okay, but I’m hungry,
and you’re making noise,
so cook me those eggs.

I did, and when I flipped
those eggs perfectly,
I felt better, and
when she said, Damn,
these taste good, pass the pepper,

I smiled, then said,
Be careful, the lid—but,
too late—pepper everywhere,
and because, No more eggs!
I passed the honey
and we ate toast,
then left for work.


Kerry James Evans is the recipient of a 2015 NEA Fellowship, a Walter E. Dakin Fellowship from Sewanee Writers' Conference, and his poems have appeared in Agni, New England Review, Ploughshares, and many other journals. He is the author of Bangalore (Copper Canyon), and he currently and works in St. Louis, Missouri.