Ohio River

Loved one, hard to call you
a body, that word
for what's still, knowing

you lap at my soles,
dare me waist-deep
into a murk the same shade

as my skin. Tell me:
if not knowing how
to swim I still wade

into deeper waters
am I brave or do I want
it all to end?

I used to think how the wind
made its way around my body
meant I had a kind

of agency. I used to think
you were only there
to keep me from a different state.

On the bank, my blood
courses through me
so hard my heart

tosses like a buoy
in a coal freighter's wake.
Braided in the trees, balloons

& caution tape, a pair
of shoes once owned by
a boy once someone's friend,

someone's blood, a boy
a stray bullet made a stream

Border State of Denial

As if there were no North Star.
As though beneath the white oak one might find shade
& not find oneself

dreaded from the branches. If the truth were
just a myth, would that make it any less true?

In the front yard, on cinder blocks
the scrapped hull of what'll get fixed
one day, one day…

as though the air won't keep its promise, can't turn steel
to flaking rust. As though light doesn't still fall
from something dead long ago.

There are some who like to think
this state was never divided,

as if here we don't have brothers
with eyes & barrels aimed,

as though the distance isn't the measure of everything
between us
and what we can't see,

as though dread isn't what sways the trees,
as though one could turn away from that,

as if this wasn't the enslaved side of a river.

Jeremy Michael Clark is from Louisville, Kentucky. He has received support from the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, Cave Canem, The Conversation Literary Festival, The Fine Arts Work Center, & Squaw Valley. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Callaloo, Horsethief, Vinyl, The Rumpus, Nashville Review, Prelude, and elsewhere. He currently lives in New York and is an MFA candidate at Rutgers University-Newark.