Those are traffic lights. They help stop people from
driving into each other. That’s a crescent moon and star
on top of that building. It means the people inside are part
of The Nation. That’s a gas station. That’s a McDonald’s.
That’s a Burger King. That’s a fried fish and chicken joint.
Over the past year Vievee Francis has received well-deserved recognition for her latest collection, Forest Primeval, which won both the 2016 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and the 2017 Kingsley Tufts Award. Her previous book, Horse in the Dark, won the Cave Canem Northwestern University Poetry Prize for a second collection, and her first, Blue-Tail Fly, preceded a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award. Since the publication of Forest Primeval, Francis has been working on a fourth collection, and at The Common we’ve had the honor and the pleasure of presenting some of her new poems: “On Leaving the Mountains and Coming to the City I Thought I Left For Good” and “The Beauty of Boys Is” appear in Issue 13, Spring 2017, and “This Morning I Miss Such Devotion” is forthcoming in Issue 14, Fall 2017. Here is “’Moan Soft Like You Wanted Somebody Terrible,’” our Poetry Feature for the month of June.
Beneath a chalk-white winter sky,
her diamond studs gleam.
We sit parked in the Clam Shack lot, halfway
between her house and mine,
in her mother’s luxury SUV. Her alibi this time:
Christmas shopping for her mother on Newbury Street.
I’ve sent a map on wax paper–
What he loves arrayed as clumsy petals.
If it arrives,
someone will ink it in his back,
so it will go with him
like a paw stuffed in a casing,
boardwalk mojo to ward off the hail of RPG, AK,