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i.m. James Scott Latona (1982-2017)

No taller than a mother’s

waist, we bubbled shoeless

                                                 through damp August

haze, squealing sweat-

soaked and grass-stained

                                                 into the vacillating

spray of rusted lawn sprinklers—

suspended in the echoes

                                                 of our names

above the stiffly crewcut

sod, our small backs arcing

                                                 upward and away

from each faded brick facade

in our unmanicured

                                                 apartment complex—

our bright sounds skipping

off the surface of the yard,

                                                 clapping in ricochet

against the mold-flecked

shutters and cracked paint

                                                 of single-parent

window frames—our vison

rippling with the asphalt

                                                 distance, blurred

like the watery inscriptions

of nearby dogwood branches

                                                 dipped in shade—

our street-scabbed bodies

briefly tinseled in the sun,

                                                 fathered by the light

we gathered and the light

we gave back to each other

                                                 one by one,

all of us lunging forward,

sliding faster through the mud—

Listen to "Bloodbuzz Ohio" by The National, selected to accompany Malachi's work, below:

00:00 / 04:36
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MALACHI BLACK is the author of Storm Toward Morning (Copper Canyon Press, 2014), a finalist for the Poetry Society of America’s (PSA) Norma Farber First Book Award and a selection for the PSA’s New American Poets series. Black’s poems appear widely in journals and anthologies and have been recognized by a number of fellowships and awards. He is an associate professor of English and creative writing at the University of San Diego.

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