CJ Connolly


Culling the flowers, I gather up
what is left  all my small griefs
plucked from the furrow of my brow
to smooth across my lap  like a tongue

laden with honey, moving hot and low
against my mouth  a lover already lost

— I swear

no one can hurt me now.

I catch the leaping grass bugs  house them,
backs against the wall  in the shell
my hands make

and I am  by all accounts  kept,
only the hot air makes room for me
in that highway mirage where vision
writhes all that dares remain still, where

I find my hair curled in more clumps
around the drain than stolen away between the
fingers of someone I love

— when you reminisced
on the days you felt free, I hope you know

I was never free.

That year you forgot
my birthday, I sheared off the rest
of my hair and began making crop circles
in the backyard  trampled down
the heads of grass until all bowed
at my feet with a praying mantis’
reverence  and I am

pious  in a field lit only
by candlelight, I too burn all the way
down to the wick  a liquid heat
pouring out from both ends

but like Millay, I cannot disentangle
the knots inside
is it loneliness or love  that makes me

shove my body
into a fence corner out by
the blackberry bush  until the blades
of my shoulders slide out
onto the grass fusing  together  like
the back of a Japanese beetle.

Imagine this like the moment before escape  the beetle's frenzied
squeeze  of the fingertip  the release  oh how I craved some

tenderness  be still  be still  lay
low but still  I pick the fruit too early
the flesh too pink  too young
the skin disintegrating in my hand
before it can become anything  else

— and I tell you,
the body remembers.

I am uprising.

I always want things
before they’re ready.

Spring Snow

that deciduous bird-milk milked-bird soaring
low those swallows long and dry that
bone-burn burrowing deep inside a burned-
wet empty-wet sock that perpetual hole in the economy-
shoe a kind of petal-sorrow kept at bay a
mothering-gaze of sepal-sorrow sometimes stamen-sorrow
is useful and lonesome like a false god a kind
of calcined-holy wetting the tongue a blade
of grass a calcified-holy milk gushing
forth bringing your butter-bones to their knees and
that bird-milk goes down singing right
before contact with that burned-wet
sorrow that sweet petal-sorrow.