Jasmine V. Bailey’s first book of poems, Alexandria, was published by Carnegie Mellon University Press in 2014 and won the Central New York Book Award. Her second collection, Disappeared, is forthcoming in 2017. Her work has appeared in many journals, including the Carolina Quarterly, 32 Poems, Crab Orchard Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Cimarron Review, and Midwest Quarterly.
Asleep, your old flames
are in bed with you willing or not.
It pleases you to touch them
like a sentimentalist reads
an old newspaper in the garage
looking for its clue,
wanting again that coffee
that filled Chestnut Street
like a hanger fills a stiff coat,
like a chemical foam smothers fire.
The bodies of young men fascinate.
That they chuckle, what they would like
to destroy. The story of my sky
is that it narrowed wickedly
one hot Saturday, then opened,
and everyone said mazel tov.
Now at rest I memorize what’s lost.
Swami Come to Me
Yes, I want this linen shroud,
to sweep, to eat lentils; I do not
watch the flowers change
or think about the months
that inch my son to manhood.
I love an elephant and many gods,
but you first, conduit, space needle,
incarnation. I know what we do is sex,
and I know lots of Sanskrit.
I am Arjuna in a chariot.
I am Pandava until every lotus burns.
You will not outlive me
on your turmeric pillow.
Lifetimes, too, I will chase you
like a voracious vagina which is
a field which is a mouth which
births a goddess and the next moment
is the milk
of four hundred thousand dandelions.