Poor Claudia published poetry, prose and conversations online and in print from 2009 to 2018.

Emma Bolden

Two Poems

  • Within the Revolution Come Undone
  • Excavation, Exhibition

Within the Revolution Come Undone

Hadn’t we asked ourselves / wasn’t there winter
were there midnight birds / was the sky
a night’s home / and when I had given my all

I could answer / my breast was an open
door / my sword was a tongue / didn’t we always
mean metaphorically / were there miracles or
at least ash trays / did anyone beg please / let

these evenings and lightnings be / enough / inside
every syllable was leaf / without tree / were there
raincoats or chlorine tablets / were there armies

in coats white under sun / was I who I was when
I was afraid / under the hush / was a fallen crowd
I had packed my antibiotics / I had a familiar / sense
of terrain / were there ever thunderheads / secrets

I answered / the dove was a finger / the devil a nest
pointed up / towards the heaven where this body falls
heavy / leaves behind an aching / like any memory

Excavation, Exhibition

Of the year we wore leather & guitar music sweet with distortion
I remember the taste of peppermint bright as teeth, as the lime
balanced on gin’s balcony. When the train trestle tired of its own
gravity, it unglassed every window until I couldn’t sing or

break or sleep, I couldn’t stop door locks, blood, recognition,
pallor & the lofi buzz of forever translated into the language
of that radio, that same damn Aerosmith song. I was in love &
everything mattered & meant that I missed a man, displayed on

lawns & car hoods & parking lots, gassed & stationed. I saw
him in the same way I saw the museum. Displayed inside glass:
a man who lived to be dead. For five thousand years snow was
gentlesweet, preserving him as skin & tufts once-was-hair. & the self

I couldn’t love looked & head-shaking said doesn’t he look like last
night’s chicken, & all through ancient Greece & by the Rosetta
stone, under the marble men who’d lost their arms but kept
their laurel leaves & penises, I couldn’t stop thinking, why would

he & I & time & light never be a beauty or jewel-lasting of a thing.
I could’ve lived for a forever & another forever glassed inside hope,
which is always a lie, gentlesweet, preserving. I could’ve lived framed
in the grays of the photograph he took after he’d refused to light

my cigarette, he centered me in the cross-hair of his lens, he said never
start & then you’ll never have to stop & I thought if I believed enough
that could mean I love you.

Emma Bolden

Emma Bolden is the author of two full-length collections of poetry -- medi(t)ations (Noctuary Press, 2016) and Maleficae (GenPop Books, 2013) – and four chapbooks. Bolden was the recipient of a 2017 Creative Writing Fellowship from the NEA; her work has appeared in The Best American Poetry, The Best Small Fictions, and Poetry Daily as well as such journals as The Rumpus, StoryQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, Conduit, the Indiana Review, Harpur Palate, the Greensboro Review, Feminist Studies, Monkeybicycle, The Journal, and Guernica. She currently serves as a Senior Reviews Editor for Tupelo Quarterly.