the louderARTS Project

Ross Gay

Ross Gay’s poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Harvard Review, Atlanta Review, Columbia: A Journal of Poetry and Art, Margie: The American Journal of Poetry, North American Review, and Sulfur, among others. In addition to completing his Ph.D. in American literature at Temple University in Philadelphia, he is a basketball coach, poetry teacher, Cave Canem fellow and demolition man. His most recent project is "The Cold Loop," a collaborative graphic chapbook made with the painter Kim Thomas, slated for publication this spring by Q Avenue Press.





The Hernia

The gingko bones shiver a bit, dream
of full bloom, of a million fan-shaped leaves
and a million juicy stink bombs. This year
I'll watch those buds push out of the trees'
knuckles, I'll watch the coat of green slowly
fill the wiry limbs; each night I'll see
less wood, more elegant foliage- it won't
sneak up on me like last year, one day
so cold the car coughs and spits, the next
so warm Kennedy Boulevard oozes with open-toed
shoes, with, God-bless them, those Jersey
City dresses, cotton butterflies riding
and hiding the saunter's supple, muscled crux;
I'll feel the warmth slither out of winter's linger
like a python pulling out of a withered cloak of scales,
I'll finger the pink, seutchered worm crawling into my
navel, walk to the courts, careful not to
sneeze, I'll watch the first golden river
of ballers hollering back and forth, hear
that perfect sound, the rock's pound and bounce,
and I'll fall in love 14 times in one evening,
once with a good head fake, once a crossover, maybe
a good head of cornrows, or a woman's quick
walk outside the fence, trying to be invisible
to the twenty sweaty black men on the sideline.
I'll be waiting, you see, for the repaired
leak in my belly's lining to heal.
Doctor says four weeks from surgery: May 1st.
That's four weeks beginning of spring, four
weeks when the jaunt to the court is a sugar
soaked breast stroke to a Darwinian black top
mambo where swap-dog-kin swim
like a five-finned fish, like a fist wet with the sweat of sex-
let's face it; I love you,
and for one month, starting tomorrow,
my heart, for you, will thrash itself like a horsefly
caught in a thimble, and I'll be that kid, you know
him, sad-eyed and palms aglisten, fogging
the aquarium glass, begging the ray's smooth wings
to cast a gray, fluid shadow across his back,
the water's gentle pull and push the truest soothe
he could imagine, except I'm dreaming of a drop
step, a fast break, a no-look pass, and God, I hope
you wait for me (as I will for you); and as the syrupy
drugs roll through my veins, and the one hour
undertow takes hold, I'll be thinking
of you, angel, the only one who loves me
exactly as I want: silently
and in my dreams.



© Ross Gay



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