poetry society of america




"The poems of CJ Evans are as mysterious as they are precise. He has an amazing gift for combining opposing feelings in the same breath. ('All I wanted was to be a splinter under your skin, / to be wrapped in your body and wait for you to heal over me.') Thus, the desire expressed throughout the collection both threatens and tantalizes ('A pear's light is the same / as her hand's, and he doesn't trust // himself to know what to bite'); it frets and flirts ("When did all the pretty girls go and get married?'). Contemporary in their fresh, elastic phrasing while classical in their omission of irony and slickness, these are truly lyrical poems: immediate and impressionistic; resonant and intense."

—Terrance Hayes



Yellow jackets hitch from their hives and come
looking. Spiders wait, legs linked, octets
of eyes on me. I've failed

my unborn children already. I've loved nothing
better than betrayal. And the insects know.
Ladybugs coat my windows;

grasshoppers spit. I need to know they'll be better
but still me, forever. Ants sway, carapaces
clicking like gun-cocks.

How can I know my children won't be monsters?
Won't prize sex as highly as I do? Won't
be felons and too thin?

The insects come for me. They see the creased peach
of my growing belly. They know I'll end
in their arms, and how tenderly

they'll rip my body. I look everywhere and see
my faults. The crickets keen;
the fly buzzes.

What can I protect them from, when all I've done
is leave in the night? Ans with so many
inplacable eyes

on my eyes, how can I know they won't just be me,
again? The insects sing in the brush;
then silently they come.


The world is gone to metal, but she
ignores the steels and zincs. It rains

cesium into the children's upturned
eyes. She goes to the attic and finds

the box. Outside, birds fail
to unwrap aluminum wings; only

hawkmoths still fly. The box is hinged
with leather, heavy-lidded with burled

heartwood. Trees break under
the weight of fruit turned to tarnished

nickel, and yttrium pumps through her
weakened limbs. She puts her mouth

in the box and covers it with shells.
Out the window, she sees the moon

pulled closer by this leaden plague.
And with him come the wolves.