The Beauty of Boys Is

By VIEVEE FRANCIS

that they are not men,

that they have not settled into their beards and

remorse, their crow’s feet and givens.

There is not yet an investment in houses

settling onto their foundations, hair, or

yesterday. The boy senses his time is precarious,

growing shorter as he sprouts up, so he spends

time believing, in everything,

                                                he climbs and

he tumbles and tunnels and spills and

puts to good use his stones and his quarters,

penknife and book, even the stick he uses

to defeat his awkward shadow. He will dream

into existence a raft, a rocket, a fort of mud.

From a cloud

                     a gift of horses.

From the sand

                     castle and moat,

                     kingdom and cause.

Every boy knows he is a lone king,

that above hover dragons

from which he cannot withdraw, and so he must

pull from his quiver the makeshift arrow,

so he must draw the bow, and not yet divided

from his body all is possible.

                                                 He looks up

toward a darkening horizon, certain. So certain.

 

Vievee Francis is the author of Forest Primeval, Horse in the Dark, which won the Cave Canem Northwestern University Poetry Prize for a second collection, and Blue-Tail Fly. Her work has appeared in numerous journals including PoetryWaxwingBest American Poetry 2010, 2014, and 2017, and Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of African American Poetry. She was the recipient of the 2016 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award.

Sunna JuhnThe Beauty of Boys Is

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Once in a car, a good boy / shook me hard. If you like it / that way in bed, then why are you… / the tiny bruises on my arms / where his prints pressed into my pink/ sleeves rose to the surface like rattles. / Like requests. They thrived there / for a week until they settled /