Photo by Marina Reich on Unsplash

Johnathan to David
after Hannah VanderHart

What is shameful about this nakedness?
I have given you every weapon, my armor.

Adorn me with nothing but your gaze,
my love. Sheath my killing sword.

Lay aside the arrows. Lay aside the deadly
bow. Ornament me with kisses. Bring

your mouth near. Because nashaq
means to bring two mouths together

as well as to dress oneself for battle.





The Beautiful Room is Empty

The beautiful room is
empty like my chest
is, a beautiful

but empty room;
though it has a view.

What is this
encircling,

on all this nothing?
The emptiness resounds
like a chorus which

makes no sound. Once
in a wide vista,

young pronghorns who’d
never seen a car

circled with worry, then
paused in confusion,
circled again. The view

is a spaciousness
where beauty is the shroud.

This beautiful room has
no cure—only slumber

and my heart is
insomniac, wanders
the halls tracing

shapes of what the soul might
look like, its fingers

on the walls, ghost
image for what doesn’t

persist. Is this restlessness
an understanding?
The room stood

empty, without a view,
so it tried to be

beautiful instead.
Is this what it is

to strive at meaning—
—? The slender
animal noosed then

tethered. My chest is
empty so it has never

bled. But it has
a view, which might be

called beautiful—a
nothingness, a resounding
quality, a quiet

that goes on and on
and nowhere.





Jory Mickelson is the queer, nonbinary author of WILDERNESS//KINGDOM, inaugural winner of the Evergreen Award Tour and 2020 High Plains Book Award in Poetry. Their publications include Court Green, Painted Bride Quarterly, Jubilat, Diode Poetry Journal, The Rumpus, Ninth Letter, and other journals. They are the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize and were awarded fellowships from Lambda Literary Foundation and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico. They live in the Pacific Northwest.

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