i wrench the bone from my mouth for three minutes before it flutter into a raven. you shove
the raven inside your jeans, watch saliva thumb the chin. my fingers parenthesis my elbow. i
shake. the raven hyphens. outside, i hear many erotics: engines, wind-wrestled trees,
humming cicadas. the raven begins again, pecking until your palm waxes it tender. i canvas
your eyes: cornea. pupil. iris. lens. when i reach the vitreous body, i choke: fuck me. fuck me,
shapeless—would i have known? i? who wanted a man inside him. as thunder amputates the
sky, the light above us grows blind. the raven swells, culls my attention. what i imagine: my
hand thrusting the fowl by the throat until it chirps blood.




for my grandfather


If a bird, I would incubate the bone. Or nest inside
the marrow.
There is a nurse to my left—palm on the knee—
theory at the tongue. You are not to blame. You garden
children in your blood. If home were a place, then suffering.
Or the cartilage losing its flight. You have known this
with the body. The muscle of surgeons. The machine’s mawless beep.
Suppose you didn’t disease. Simply feathered paralysis.
Or death.
But I am not a bird. Only what is left of the iris.


Luther Hughes is a Seattle native, but is currently an MFA candidate in the Writing Program at Washington University in St. Louis. He is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Shade Journal and Associate Poetry Editor for The Offing. Winner of the Brutal Nation Poetry Prize and Windy City Times Chicago, 30 Under 30 Honoree, Luther’s work has been published or is forthcoming in Columbia Poetry Review, Vinyl, NAILED, Solstice Literary Magazine, and others. You can follow him on Twitter @lutherxhughes. He thinks you are beautiful.