Jasmine V. Bailey


We can no longer call this summer August.
Two bats dart from mosquito to mosquito
and the half-coin moon is a hieroglyph for work.
From the soy field something wild and alone cries.
We touch everything briefly,
but the fact of touch lasts unpityingly.
I drove down the road, seeing my little house
for the first, then the second time, someday
to move out. Runner after runner goes by toward
where the turnpike bursts like a bad epiphany
from the tricycle-strewn town. The deafening crickets
never finish their shifting story.


The Working Class

The world works its hands between you and I
as it works its fingers through faces
leaving the map of its pleasure
and corn records the anger of a man
who chases deer in his truck
because of a woman. The plows answer
faithfully the vespers, averring early morning
when a wife is awake discovering misfortune
and not praying for something else.
It feels like someone wants us to grow
apart, but actually no one thinks of us.

If a reprieve loses its way here, we will toss it
into the poisoned well with the wine
and soup. We would not know what to do
with the things we longed for.
We listen to the hurt and hungry,
we dissolve our hands in dishwater,
we sweep up the dust after it settles
after we sweep it up. A magazine reveals
that it is made of us.


Jasmine V. Bailey’s Alexandria was published by Carnegie Mellon University Press in 2014 and won the Central New York Book Award for poetry. Her chapbook, Sleep and What Precedes It, won the Longleaf Press chapbook prize, and she was an O’Connor creative writing fellow at Colgate University. Her poems have appeared in various journals and in 12 Women: an anthology of poems, published by Carnegie Mellon.