Edison Jennings is a Head Start bus driver in the southern Appalachian region of Virginia whose poetry has appeared in several journals and anthologies, including Boulevard, Kenyon Review, Poetry Daily, Rattle, River Styx, Southern Review, Southern Poetry Review, Southwest Review, TriQuarterly, and elsewhere. He is the author of three chapbooks, Reckoning (Jacar Press), Small Measures (Wild Leek Press), and A Letter to Greata (Plan B Press). Broadstone books will publish his collection, Intentional Fallacies, will be later this year.
The threadbare room is thick with heat
where a naked white haired man
sleeps on an iron bed, last stop
on a long retreat littered with bits
of memory discarded on the way,
except the secrets he tried to keep
sutured underneath his skin,
a vellum tattooed with vanishing ink.
But on this stripped-down bed
his flesh is thin, easily torn, his past,
a seeping vapor a ceiling fan stirs
into the stew of sweat and shit he braises in.
Be very still (we’ll slip out soon,
he’ll never know). A soft backwash
of wings hovers near the window,
pinioned things, creatures of light
and air that feather on the fringe
of sense and look like us, but more so.
(An earlier version of this poem, titled “Man Dreaming of Angels”, was published in Connotations Press about 10 years ago, maybe longer.) It has been substantially revised since its initial publication.