Aris Brown: 3 Poems

Key

The bow, the collar, the pin, the post.

Precisely cut ridges, a city skyline,

nickel silver glistening under the streetlight.

 

You fumble them one-by-one, each clink paired

to a gym locker, a mailbox, the apartment door

with steel round bars on the glass.

 

How awkwardly they fit between your knuckles

at midnight, walking from the theater district

downtown. How subtly you silence their jingle.

 

The faceplate, the latch bolt, the strike, the spring,

the fist clamping the knob to the door that cannot

open fast enough. The space between the exit

 

and your car. The pointed edge, just sharp

enough to break through skin, the contours,

the crevices, the Taekwondo class you never took.

 

The hull, the plug, the driver pin. The master key,

a cocksure screw to unfasten the most stubborn

locks, a slight jimmy, a little coercion, an otherwise

 

perfect fit. How quickly you’ve learned the brightest

route to your house, which streets you can cross,

makeshift claws at the ready.


Indigo Hour

     She knows she glows this time of night;

when the moon carves diamonds

from her skin. She is a lunar-lit

coal mine, her ashen tongue coated

in cinder and scalded prayer—

 

     Below the streetlight,

she drops to her knees and begs

her feet to become wings.

She knows the space between her luck

and her front door,

she missed the window—

     Forehead pressed to the street, 

she claws at concrete until she draws blood,

knowing the flesh beneath her fingernails 

is only earth. She uproots the asphalt,

but digging feels clean—

 

     She scrapes the sidewalk for the fragments

that slipped through her temples

and presses them into stones.

 

     But she knows her fossils are fuel,

and do not look the same under fire,

melted down, poked, prodded—


Violet Night

I catch his silhouette, wind through his hair, curls taking flight.

He meets me at the fountain draped in rotting leaves and moonlight.

 

I wave a peaceful greeting when he steps into my sight.

He flashes me a midnight smile, teeth sparkling like moonlight.

 

A car backfires and he’s on edge, eyes peeled for flashing lights.

I want him in my arms to hold under the moonlight.

 

He curls his fingers to a fist, his knuckles full of fight.

I reach my hand to touch his skin, an indigo in moonlight.

 

The instant when the black on black caress, I pray it might

stir up a peace inside him, asleep for many moons. Light

 

peeks through onyx trees, an orange and blue, a pink and white,

but leave us here below the whistling moon. When light

 

draws near, he asks in haste, “Aris, what is a violet night?”

When black-skinned boys are safe to roam between the moon and light.


 Aris Brown has a BA from the University of Houston and is an inaugural member of CoogSlam, the 4th in the nation collegiate slam team. She is an associate poetry editor for the literary magazines Glass Mountain and Shards and is a reader for Gulf Coast. She has work published in Underground Journal

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