Three Poems by jason b. crawford

jason b. crawford
By Elen Nivrae

Untitled 1975-86 

after Alvin Baltrop 

i am intentional
in how i spend
my time, wetting
myself with myself
for myself, my skin 
clicking to the 
taxonomy of each 
wrist stroke. slick, 
the slow current 
as my palms landscape 
the inner ring my oak- 
thick thighs create. i 
carve into the fat. i lie 
by myself. spit at the sun, 
pour a kettle of water- 
bugs onto my ankles, wrap 
my chest in worn grey 
leather plagued in a dozen 
men’s skunk, bathe myself 
in their gross. i dig 
myself knife deep, let 
whatever wants to 
spoil me rain 
seeds down my jawline. 
a hundred horseflies circle 
my tongue, dub me lord 
over stale things. the body’s 
cylindrical gushing, how it 
disgorges from me 
like a frothing ocean.

 

Untitled 1975-86

after Alvin Baltrop

shall we consider the boys, tactical in want, smelling like yesterday’s 
dirt; that lay atop my slender decking, bare and insistent in their 
appetite for each other. i am non-consensual but stagnant in how i move 
my frame in this heat; these old dogs acting out their desires, foraging 
between my railings for meat. railing is such a funny word in this context 
with its meaning to fence or barrier from or to another side, its proximity 
to keeping. as much as i wish them to not exist on me, i hold them here, 
keep them safe from the cold river’s mouth. the diurnal tide holding its arms 
out for them. for as long as i have been, i have been made to house for men’s 
sweat, in their labor, in their anger, in their lust. these men, hair tangled in 
candytufts, understand this negotiation. waves pushing against my bumpers, 
i transfix into a cavern to hold their knees upright for their thrusting, i spin 
my ropes into life vest, if i am to fall let it be in love with the touching between 
my two gods or let it be with the thought that i might not have to die alone.

 

On “Unhoeing”

after Taylor Byas

“Let us being in the Garden, hoe in hand”
The root of any word must start 
in the dirt; in the breaking 
of soil; in the mouth 
of a flower bed; how we tongue 
the petals into language. When I speak 
of the act, I only mention the new 
skin; the earth’s asthenosphere 
cracked by my hands. To hoe 
is always to cause harm 
to a brittle surface. To strike 
a quaking garth until it fissures 
on command. I watch eagerly 
for a man muscled in mantle 
to split a piece
wood in a violent lust; every thump 
of the ax splintering my bones;
I wish to be 
that log cracking hungrily
in his palms. Or considering the splitting 
of timber by Chris Evans’ angered fingers; yes, I drown 
in this sweltering heat. A fractured thing 
buckling under a boy’s blade. And let us 
return to the root; how thick it grows 
hovering the roof of my mouth. How the language wilts 
beneath the act of bodies wet with mud. A man tells me 
what he wishes for me to do with his rancid taste and I start 
to question the origins of filling a hole 
once dug out by my own jaw. And because there is 
a hoe, there must be a field somewhere 
emptied with greedy plots; the sun’s murky light 
peering through the fingers of the trees. The body thrusting 
itself towards the rock— ridden ground; unsure 
of what it is supposed to bury next. Now let us consider 
the statement again; ”unhoeing” to rename a tool 
from its original purpose ; forgetting the violence 
in naming a thing as violent. To give new meaning 
to a shattering body of wood. 

Contributor(s)

jason b. crawford

jason b. crawford (They/He/She) born in Washington DC and raised in Lansing, MI, is the author of Year of the Unicorn Kidz. They have poems in POETRY Magazine, Cincinnati Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, RHINO Poetry, among others. The are a 2023 Emerging Writers Fellow for Lambda Liteary and hold their MFA in Poetry from The New School. Their second collection, YEET! is the winner of the Omnidawn 12st/2nd Book Prize and will be published Fall 2025.

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