A few miles past the howling
dog hitting the beginning note
of a blues movement
with the urgency of an icicle
on the verge of collapse
but a couple stop signs before
the orange billboard
that reads EVERYTHING
IS FREE in letters bold
& chartreuse, which I once believed
was a shade of purple
but recently learned is the color
of grass and angrily thought
why did no one tell me this?
when really it’s too often
that words push from below
their thin outline
against a moment’s surface
but don’t quite break through
like the night I chugged
too many Red Bulls
to impress my sober friends
which was only a few hours after
our friend died of a heroin overdose
but two days before
anyone told us he was gone
and no one muttered
as they watched me vomit
red oil into the dirt
because we were all too busy
dancing loose & unpredictable
as the last pinecone dangling
above the white-gray headstone
I vomited beside
in the secret graveyard
a few miles past the howling dog
a couple stop signs before
the orange billboard, right before
we all changed for good
because you can’t remember
how something like that actually
happened, after knowing.
On the Anniversary of Your Marriage
An envelope came for you although it wasn’t
addressed to anyone in particular.
I thought to burn it or run it over
with the spare tractor tire I keep
leaning against the back shed, but instead
opened it up. Inside was a fine green cloth
and several peony petals that had wilted
before or after packaging. Struck by
the vague sense I was failing
a quiz on how to remember
useless dreams, I laid down on the carpet.
The TV static merged into the roar of an ocean.
In life, you can believe whatever you want.
I once believed a small mouse had come
to save me. I loved him like a husband,
dancing around in the moonlight, singing
silly made-up songs and pretending for one moment
that heartbreak wasn’t utterly and entirely
and gut-wrenchingly total.
Jarrett Moseley is a bisexual poet living in Miami, where he was a James A. Michener fellow in the University of Miami's MFA program. He is the author of the chapbook Gratitude List (forthcoming, Bull City Press, 2024). His poetry has won awards from the Academy of American Poets and the Baltimore Review, earned an honorable mention for the Miami Book Fair’s Emerging Writer Fellowship, and been long listed for the Poetry Society’s 2022 National Poetry Competition. His poems are featured or forthcoming in POETRY Magazine, Poets.org, Baltimore Review, and elsewhere.