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IthacaLit   Literary Magazine: Lit with Art © 2011

All individual works copyrighted by their authors. All rights reserved.

First Credit IthacaLit. ISSN: 2372-4404

Keith WILSON, Spring 2019

I Looked For Love in the Index of a Book on Black Cinema

and Found Only Lynching


how we entreat familiar bodies.

there are none that exist


but theories of flowers. deer that has come bounding through

my tender screen, ground me. my least favorite proverb


is you can't judge a book by its cover. you can

only do that. the weird bread of another's body,


the greens that are mustard

under scrutiny. to yearn


to not be a book with a wet spot meant to preserve flowers

is to absolve yourself from failure, pridefully.


for instance, i remember the flower

girl herself, my cousin’s wedding, but not the petals


or the stems. for instance, i click back to a video

being shared by strangers. a black girl who won’t listen to a man


is plucked from her desk and thrown by the officer.

light can move through substances that air cannot—


she lands a way i've never seen a white body lie.

a glowing field of phones


records my cousin's wedding though i never go to look.

in the confusion, i see nothing but black girls holding flowers.

Who Is There to Eulogize the Tree




       the mason—dixon









1 a shadow extended long enough becomes just 

   the light


you’ve never been tender. (moth wings. tobacco strung up so dry the color of a man). you can't walk to the

   car without stopping or your father to water the yard. he stares across it, bending over, thin as a country 

   that lost half itself to civil war (a cancer sign), the other half to ashes. he plucks every weed as if they were

   children—could be woven to a throne. you leave them be. whatever he believes, he believes. your whole

   theory of the sky would change if you crossed south of the equator. there, the north star evaporates. like the

   killing games children play. who would you murder first if it meant meandering the stars close to home,

   keeping them from change? (you can try again against impossibility and put hands to head to roots and

   stand, but every little sun is diamond-set into the back of your father's father's land). all that blood played

   across the innocence (some vote ignorance) of trees. they say yours are your father's eyes. he says look at 

   steve, who is army green and bends to the wind like a galaxy. every night sleeping beside him in  the ward, 

   your father never knew your name. your dream is to be terrible (a monster or a worm) and ratchet back 

   history and only afterward, be good. you are american. you could have told him anything  but, of course, you 

   never did. your name unfurls from is his name like onion skin. you 've never seen your father cry. once, 

   when his brother died, you think you see it. he waters the snow from where he poured the urn—your

   father's brother is a tree—or it's a trick of the light. maybe fireworks.


3 a crow's memory is generational 

4 a wilted kite 





Keith Wilson is an Affrilachian Poet, Cave Canem fellow, and a graduate of the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop who received three scholarships from Bread Loaf as well as scholarships from MacDowell, UCross, Millay Colony, and the Vermont Studio Center, among others. I serve as Assistant Poetry Editor at Four Way Review and Digital Media Editor at Obsidian Journal. My first book, Fieldnotes on Ordinary Love, will be published by Copper Canyon in 2019. Wilson's work has appeared or is appearing in the following journals: Poetry, Adroit Journal, Crab Orchard Review, Little A, Narrative, 32 Poems, Rhino, Muzzle, Blueshift Journal, and Vinyl. Additionally, Wilson won a Best of the Net Award, has been anthologized in Best New Poets and was appointed a Gregory Djanikian Scholar. His nonfiction won a Redivider Blurred Genre prize.