Winner of the 2023 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Contest
. . .all night I am laying/ poems away in a long box./
It is my immortality box. . .
Anne Sexton, “The Ambition Bird”
It’s said that many of our diseases
are phenotypic consequences of adaptation
compromises made so that we don’t die
too quickly to pass our afflictions along because
of course diseases are about needs whether ours
or theirs a body just flesh inside of flesh just a box
ready-to-be-filled ready-to-be-emptied caskets
made of more caskets germs inside of seeds
inside of husks inside of days inside of all
the climbing hours all the up and out and walking
away the ripples of heat the spontaneous loam
where what we are and were arises like faces
breaking through a surface coppered with the sound
of distant bells with the sound of poems laid
like votives like shabti inside of boxes inside
of skin to wait like the afflictions they are
current to ground static to signal the words
we say even when we don’t: this is my blood
and this is my body broken for you.
John Blair has published six books, most recently Playful Song Called Beautiful (University of Iowa Press, 2016) as well as poems with magazines including Poetry, The Sewanee Review, The Georgia Review, The Colorado Review, and others. His new collection of poems about the beginning of the atomic age, The Shape of Things to Come, will be published this fall by Gival Press.