Black Flower & Other Poems

Hollis Druhet

strain of oars

sometimes i just play john hurt ain’t no tellin
with the windows rolled down reminiscing
the wheels they’d catch on cement n gravel
sometimes i try to walk big n tall like my feet
could knock gavels if the black timbs were fitted
y’know n sometimes i step quick like my toes
imagine they were needles pinning softly to that red
cushion ah sometimes i like to savour the flavour the crust
of bundt cake leftover i took it to go so i could enjoy
that sweet taste later sometimes i feel complicit
in sin like sometimes wen it’s hot n humid i take the sun
n air to my body the skin bristlin and it’s back in mississippi
it’s jackson i’m a little boy a baby whose crown
only got a couple curls and they mahogany
sometimes that heat glistens like it’s not christmas no more
it’s nobody’s born day n the only christening
being performed ain’t happening wth water it’s
happening like before it’s happening like they ain’t
giving names they taking like what happened
in minnesota last summer but years ago too i mean
mni sota sometimes i wanna say like white man
i got my metaphysical arc so you ain’t taking shit
but also sometimes i don’t wanna be fixed in reaction
an inculcated response so i just lay my head to the dirt

Black Flower

in the basement there are incomplete walls forming routes to follow / they gather posture without attempting to reach the shadowy mass of ceiling levitating high above. Just before the descent / I had told my instructor how much I looked forward to discovering new ways to perceive myself. There are many pathways / my guide doesn’t bother checking to see if I am managing to keep up. Eventually I fall behind / begin to explore my own routes. A glaze of ice blue and pale neon green is levelled upon the walls / a birth of frozen sludge. I progress lower and lower through the maze and am met with a curious collection of expressions / physical structures depicting the achievements and progressing styles of all the classes of budding talents who’ve passed through the institute. Some students like to spend time in the caverns. My eyes gaze upon what appears like boats wobbling upon stilted bug-legs with smoke wafting from windows and everyone is using lit matches to orient their bodies in place. A familiar face from the visiting pool turns mocking attention to me and calls others. They begin with verbal abuses / unsexed vermin / dirty nigger / and then velocity shifts gears. I am rushed / screaming / to a rare corner. I thought the pathways were unending. They are grabbing my arms. A pair of hands grasp each side of my face and a third palms at my lips / my nose. I lose dimension within the swarm and can barely cry out my pleas to the crowd. I become the pièce de résistance for a grand frieze of learning / caving inwards / fungal growth of communal healing might emerge from my ribs and lungs. They swallow me in bits and pieces. I am met with a blackness that curves out from my split body

A thrum of water rushes at the edge of Marseilles

How the split head of a meadow mushroom cap gives way
to listless folds of flesh / its impression
saturating a herald of spring images.

If I could go fishing with my father, I imagine
we would eventually just throw back
all the bowfin and burbot that had been caught.

I imagine our shared image
imprinted on the glance of galena, a shine of light
dancing always shakily above the surface of running rivers.

Minutes spent by the flowing tributary
were a sparse currency, indebted to pockets of time
woven like bread baskets.

And then, a grey catbird cried out against the light of dawn –
a doubled emergence that tore with seeming purpose
to penetrate the shade cast by white pines.


on the isthmus it was funny how your face
could get caught on one side and then
the other, the way the wind was broiling
it caught brisk chunks of the ocean’s offering
to make up a mound / pause for a moment
while I make up my face the way my mother
taught me. lack for plucked thyme
was the only issue, where else to ply material
to partition a canton? I did take exception
upon seeing the way you handled my issue
of tomb of terror, the residue of lines palmed
by sweaty fingers, a violation. after smoking grass
you’d sing a soft tune, buoyant in expression
and that made me smile. volition leads animals
to do unnatural things for the dexter
of emotions crestfallen, the sun how it set
a mauve choreography to motion. remember
how your stomach would get an admirable pooch
when breath was exhaled accurately, and the pork belly
prepared with fennel and green onion? an older
black man would perch calmly on the sediment
when the water was lower, his eyes
seemed kind back when the days were longer.

Hollis Druhet is a Midwestern writer living in Champaign, Illinois. His writing has been featured in Purdue University’s Bell Tower. He received a BA at Purdue University and is now pursuing a PhD in English Literature at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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