Monday Jun 24

DawsonErica Erica Dawson is the author of two books of poetry: The Small Blades Hurt (Measure Press, forthcoming January 2014 ) and Big-Eyed Afraid (Waywiser, 2007).  Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, Birmingham Poetry Review, Harvard Review, Literary Imagination, Virginia Quarterly Review, and other journals and anthologies.  She lives in Tampa, FL, where she is an assistant professor at The University of Tampa, teaching in the undergraduate English and Writing program and the low-residency MFA in Creative Writing.


Driving with Mom, after radiation

She smells herself burning, she says
As if she smells the burning hair
Some people sense before a stroke—
Slight pause. Something is just about
To happen: hammer after cock,
A sucker flinch when someone’s thrown
A punch already. She says she burns
Like white people but burns can’t stick
When you’re made so good for the sun,
Sun running from dark skin longing
To soak it up. She says she’ll crack
Like ashes into embers.
                                           I say
I’ll put her in a see-through urn,
Open the lid, blow in some air,
And make like I can make backdrafts.

Apparently, that’s ludicrous.

Watch yourself, she says. I roll
Right through a stop sign. August noon
Sits on the post that’s got to be
Too hot to touch on a median
Too green for summer. When I take
The turn, there’s actually a glare.

Some Kind of –philia

I am a suckerfish. I am
In love with my own mouth and one
Boat’s balsa wood watertight hull.
I drink the Licking River dry
Like drought. I pour a 40 ounce
In tiny waterfalls for all
The fallen. I am pacing breath.
I am a riverboat’s big wheel
Cutting through every wake’s along.

The hull wants to be me.
                                       I know
That it may write the waterline
But I’m all lip, rising something
Like a right-after-a-storm river
Swelling like it just up and died.