On "Never Lived In The City," the author writes: A paean to the particular chronology of a night, nights out at home, which is and is not Atlanta, where you were born and left and still come back. That humming on the two-lane highway, to freeway, to parking lot, that time rolling in the car, the speed, merging, how it goes to your head. How time once you get going speeds up and then you're in it, going out. What slow spread you leave behind in the daylight, that old onionlight. The days and nights between you going down to the city, from mountain or valley or cul de sac. Who are you when you're there. How much sweat will you sweat, soak your underclothes. Some nights you drive an hour or two just to be somewhere, be somewhere to dance in city sound. In the car headed to the bar. Who will you see, what're you gonna get into. Maybe you'll see your ex in the crowd who's sweet, how sweet. Is the city so much. You're there to give in. How you might come down. You are coming down every time. These songs track that scope.

On "Okefenokee:" One way I have thought of my relationship to history and landscape is to try and write outside of my mind, to hold space to sense perception, and to locate it in a thereby imagined space which itself might hold that kind of liminal thought literally. This might take the form of, say, floating in water, or the feeling of it. But this is not to be untethered from consequence. Rather, this is a way to be in consequence. I began with the idea of cypress knees—parts of the tree's root which, for unknown reasons, grow above ground. What does it really mean to be from, or of, a place? What does that actually look like, I keep asking and trying to answer. Can, or possibly, must one dissolve individual consciousness, if only for one poem? In a way, often I am permitted to return to a swamp. Here, these songs are organically-minded, thinking of remediation.

Never Lived In The City

except if you count sprawl ululating & the molar strips of kennels
terraces many mouthed houses houses & the jacked-up creeks

trickling embankment runoff kids do that they run loose in cities
trail lickety split straight shot freeway my friend hilary shows me

no less than ninety in this lane miasmic dense the highway rate swerve
wrecks & down in rabbit holes in little five points the city'd been

granaries / mill houses / block built / affluent / incineration just
the open grit slathered babe as a baby been brought away from

this city later sucked off accent we smoke pig butts & we cannot
lie houses low level brick porticos kitchenettes & formica wrought

garden fences the burnt rust underside magnolia leaves like pollen
& bradford pears legions emitting dead fish stink in spring lining

tennis courts & sidewalks in cabbagetown times when I ever was
there ex david went & met sirdaddy who gave him a pair of sky-high

red plastic platforms but he never wore them cause he'd heard sir-
daddy'd do that for all the boys he liked & one summer we dipped

drenched to the masquerade runoffed the black tinderbox propped
on stilts how it ground in my teen dream tongue out sizzle second

I saw him no shirt & reached his face minnows swum in through
soaring sensors sensing each other & we turned what a long way

we'll never be ones for the crowd but in acts of faith & from across
the river of sound the kingdom called we both heard bells & that

tremor droning furnace cinders we're hammered in the heat can't
feel (we're so far off) you come down you burn up & get added on

The Cloud of Unknowing, Chapter 18: As Martha complained about Mary, so down to the present day all actives complain about contemplatives, the cause of these complaints being ignorance.


Cypress   knees the pitch root of it
      the note underlying laying     like stink

sulfur blink          bone face chert
                  back of the head mud
    water silent nostrils           back brine I

& the old form   superimposed onto each
                                 other just below

It & I facing           upward vascular ascending
   water drifting over           blind for the time being

Circle base swollen drink up from peat as
body becomes fluid            & the unknown ekes

out I floating          crossever gradient radials
                                   branchlets scalelike
   If I aerate   am then outgrowth
              denuded roots         exposed & rotted

hollow over time form is    un-underground
fibrous structure                     needs to breathe &

in this land the water's shedding  dissolving
                             into common clay

The Cloud of Unknowing, Chapter 34: God grants his grace freely without any intermediary, and it may not be achieved through intermediaries.

Alicia Wright is originally from Rome, Georgia, and has received fellowships from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Ecotone, West Branch, The Literary Review, Poetry Northwest, Flag + Void, and The Southeast Review, among others. At present, she is working towards a PhD in Literary Arts at the University of Denver, where she serves as Conversations Editor for Denver Quarterly.