Poem: What we talk about when we talk about love

sideGARDENtopWhat We Talk About Whenseed_dc_08_elida_quesada_april2015

We Talk About Love

(John Jeffire)


Too many ways of looking

At a blackbird tossed

In the autumn sky.

From the dry shadows

Of the bed from which

The sun cannot step,

Your whisper flits above:

I am free to leave.

First, a living will,seed_dc_05_jean_steritt_may2015

Power of attorney,

No machines or tubes,

We first discussed this

When our hearts beat quick

In the raven’s glimmer,

A clatter of wings burst

At red clay and live oak—

Free to go.

The wind knows all directions.

I wipe feces from crevices

My tongue once explored,

I scrape uneaten mealsseed04_galloway

From cracked plates,

I dig arms under whatever

Is left to dig under—

So many ways of looking

At a blackbird thrown

In an autumn sky, life alit

In the few uncollapsed rivers

Of your hands, and I consider

The offer, freedom, mine from

You or yours from me not clear.

Stand with me, survey the distance:seed8989483RudySerra dec jan feb

Blanched earth, seedless,

Scab stubble frozen pools,

Creek frozen in its sheets,

The only proof of life its absence:

The bank gives way beneath our feet,

I grip the crest of your waist,

And one wing between us,

We take flight.


John Jeffire was born in Detroit.  In 2005, his novel Motown Burning was named Grand Prize Winner in the Mount Arrowsmith Novel Competition and in 2007 it won a Gold Medal for Regional Fiction in the Independent Publishing seed_dc_01_anon_oct2015Awards.

Speaking of Motown Burning, former chair of the Pulitzer Jury Philip F. O’Connor said, “It works. I don’t often say that, but it has a drive and integrity that gives it credible life….I find a novel with heart.” In 2009, Andra Milacca included Motown Burning in her list of “Six Savory Novels Set in Detroit” along with works by Elmore Leonard, Joyce Carol Oates, and Jeffrey Eugenides.

His first book of poetry, Stone + Fist + Brick + Bone, was nominated for a Michigan Notable Book Award in 2009.  Former U.S. Poet Laureate Philip Levine calls the book “a terrific one for our city.”


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