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America Mix-Tape, Track 35 (excerpt)

They found me looking happy
by the East River. Fifty lashings, they said.
For believing, I was punished.
For doubting, I was punished.
My family, we were celebrants, we enthused the South, we enthused the North.
Testify, they said, and so I told the court
about the time I spent in a basement in Berkeley,
I told them about gauzy light in Redwoods,
and one afternoon in North Carolina. What they could not understand
was rapture. What they could not forgive was jubilation,
dumb cartwheeling impossible, yes, joy
like a meal that does not end with coffee, but spills
over into whiskey after whiskey, the bars close, tongues
are candles and we, we light every hall,
we are tobacco fields crawling with maggots and sympathy.
Look, I said, the lemon tree, it is heavy.
Let me do the dishes. I want more time.
Come morning, I’ll be through them hills and gone.

{To read more poems in this series, please purchase Issue 39.1.}


Jason Myers grew up in the Cumberland Valley of Maryland. He graduated from Bennington College and received an MFA from NYU and an MDiv from Emory University. He lives with his wife in Cabbagetown and is a chaplain at the Atlanta Medical Center.