Tuesday Jun 25

Julius Poetry Dean Julius is a Mississippi native, middle school teacher, & the founding editor of Juke Joint Magazine. He loves food trucks and poems about animals. He received his MFA from UNC Greensboro, and his poems and other works have appeared or are forthcoming in THRUSH, Crab Orchard Review, Gulf Stream, and storySouth. He tweets bad jokes @thedeanwholived.

To the Snowman on Ocean Avenue

Forgive us, our sullied tires, the lip-stained cigarette butts
that grimace the white of your back. Twelve stories up,

we’re huddled around a window singing hymns with a man
whose days are fewer than minutes on parking meters.

I love the oblong shape of your body, your darkened
base three sizes bigger than the rest, the slanted trail

of your crooked grin—a typo on a funeral bulletin.
The charcoals on your face will never be embers

of a dying campfire, hear stories we’ll tell of this
Brooklyn night, my ex-wife’s uncle now dead of leukemia.

That weekend we walked the dark shore along Shinnecock,
the moon’s slender, custard reflection a candlestick

on the bay. We had no language, yet, for divorce.
I dreamed you, Newport Saint, Patron of the Lucky Strike,

early in the morning, on the porch of our rental in Sag Harbor.
You were tall as the skyline, pristine in your crimson stole.

A goldfinch perched in your hands. The twigs of your fingers
were unbroken, constant—your own gilded Hamsa.

-Dana Point, CA

We toast to a lack of better words, over turkey,
vegetarian meatloaf, red wine, & potatoes.

Chris asks, why can’t we find peace in each other?
It’s before the election. His wife says, we all regret.

Truth is a papier-mâché mask. A house fly, blank face, a crow.
My father-in-law pours us another glass, our mouths unripened

blood. I’ve skipped meds four times this week. I’m ash.
Pale as whiteboard. After dinner, we shoot darts downstairs.

The rain plays the street’s untuned chord—I saw a citrus tree 
in a garden outside a Catholic church. Once, I ate a lemon

whole. I wrapped my belt too taught around my waist tonight.
Once, I noosed it around my throat. Taking notes on the plane,

I busted a red ballpoint pen. Once, I couldn’t scrub the blood
from the palms of my hands. Of what I know of commitment,

I remember packing both our bags before we left. Once, my voice
on speaker in divorce court via phone—we touch glass to glass,

hold hands in prayer, toss frustration at a cork board. I trace
smoke from Chris’s cigarette, hear a rain gutter’s vow to the curb.