When I was invited to edit They, I couldn’t quite figure out where to begin. There was a quick email sent to my address book requesting submissions but then I stopped. I didn’t know what I was doing because my life had only been a series of mediations not selections. How do you begin when you want to help everyone at once? You publish what feels right and then you get organized.
The first publication for They is three poems by Conyer Clayton–again, I couldn’t just select one and five seemed like too many, though I easily could have selected ten. Maybe these poems will make you feel uncomfortable as you remember an underage screwdriver you drank too fast in a friend’s garage, and maybe they ask you to just stay with that feeling for a little bit longer. At least long enough to say, Fuck, I’m Glad I’m Here. These poems touch on identity and how one defines it at that strange intersection of youth and adulthood in your early-20’s. What do you let go? And how do you decide what is worthy to keep? Does that four week fling change you? And when do you say, Yes, Okay, This Is Me?
Come back next Wednesday for another round from another voice to help you get through the week.
something in your backpack
Just say a word, just say
anything. I’ve complimented your sneakers,
an invitation to ask my name
while we mutually freckle
and eavesdrop on those middle age assholes
who still believe
in the power of the president,
discussing the average IQ, she must be a genius
improving with age, her brain’s prime
at nine, with nothing left to grow into, nothing
left for men to discuss over newspapers.
An engine idles in loss.
We hide rebels under wood, and beware
of tales, watermelon trees rooted in bile.
Who can tell if we’re crying or praying.
We turn our faces into the sun. There’s nothing
left to look at, so I recreate a face print in the mud,
clear crumbs from my bed sheets,
and never buy crackers again.
It’s ineffective. The glare
makes it obvious. Fold your hands.
Swallow the seeds. Feel death,
but in this way: poured
over firmly potted orchids.
Your grandfather’s none too fond you know. He continues to bristle over maps and plans, placing a finger on your mother’s lips, her golden teeth, capped in liquor and diamonds. Once the money is made we’ll rest, soft shoe to a lawn chair and scoff at the service. After the money’s made we’ll stay sober at dinner and dirty a stove top. Yes, after the money’s made I’ll apologize, make amends for thin branches chosen and suggestions made too soon. But only after the money, yes the money must be made and saved, trusted to expensive fabric and flour, green ink soothing the scars between your eyes. After the money we’ll stop, realize the reason for music.
Conyer Clayton is a poet born in Louisville, Kentucky, who currently enjoys her Canadian permanent residency in Ottawa. When she isn’t busy coaching gymnastics by day, she attempts to make use of her Master’s degree in English from the University of Louisville. Her poetry is forthcoming in Transom and NILVX, and has been published in Causeway Lit, Fishfood Magazine, PACE, The Tau Literary Journal, China Grove, Mochila Review, and the Snail Mail Review. She won poetry prizes from Metroversity in 2012 and 2013. You can find news about her poetic endeavors on facebook.com/ConyerClayton.