I want for Elliot a fullness -- A poem

By Jesse Della Riley

Well we can go
in the queer bars,

dumb with sweat,
& our grime is sugary

we can pack bodies
in the dark

What a glory
we are

Death is dim & blurry

I live,
I live,
I live,

& your beauty
& up and down my back

well we can go
to St. Louisa’s

in the back where people disperse,

& we fuck.

& our grime is urgent.

The world after all,
& what have we got left.

You say, “well, to quench.”
Your hand is warm.

Your breath is wrapping around
my chin,

You say, “oh, I am,
I am.”

you are wrapped to the floor

I am out of breath
My lips stand out
dry and cracked

I want.

oh, it is well

Things have happened here.

wet swimsuits hung out to dry
tables rolled over and strung with lights
a fort in the third bedroom
bad movies
laughter & a couch
a house.

Why do we measure time?

Let’s measure touch.

Let us

measure time
in terms of bread and shoes,
and fish

in relative extent of ocean
blue; let us not explain
ourselves & what we have studied
& not made money from;

let us not remember

every useless tick of time;

let us

not invent new trouble
unless it’s fun & maybe


I am
so happy; I am the first
or the last to break; I am full

I am branded with a scripture

I am burnt with everlasting fire

I cannot take the early parts
of life without medicine

I am drawn from his mouth
as a stone

I am not a god, not a gentle voice
& nor is god

I am the first or the last to renounce
every broken word;

I have gone forward,
I have gone backward,

I have gone onward from
silence to silence; I have

hung wet swimsuits
and violets

Take me home
where laundry

in beached wind:

Where the swallow
hides her treed kitchen:

The cicada rubs
to every heat-drenched night:

The wind says, “Blessed
are the ones I leave to die.”

So having slept,
raise me again,


give me more violets,
out of sleep, new violets,
rise them sticky sweet,

as rimming,

wild honeysuckle;

give me more words;
out of sleep and sleep,

the fringe of love is lined with fire

& wild,
& wild,
& wild,

weeded words

& the hung, wet swimsuit of a child.

Failed to catch the thing.

If it’s gone past a lover,
every fluffed-up cloud,
stars, the moon,
Jupiter’s blue,

& hasn’t found God,
what does longing attach to?

We chew through black coffee.

I am plump and bloated. You call me bloody
adjusting my panties. A moth opens
and shuts its wings like an injured fan.

We brew coffee & dress buttered toast. The moths
& their bellies full
of cotton.

In the morning we brew coffee.

In the morning, a whine from the husky.

In the morning what does a mouth

Take me home.

The wildness of love ebbs like a wave.

The absence of God only increases wildness.

You say, “So the Lord has grown our longing.”

You lie in our bed in a wig. You smell
not so much of sex, as toothpaste.

So the Lord; grow me long.

You say, “For God to cast out darkness,
put your longing inside me.”

Awanmoon held out her fishing net
& failed to catch the thing.

A comet burned a hole through her net.

Tell me your long places.

Your fingers curl to your coffee.

I reach for your face and forget why.

I long &
grow taller.

Wane: to grow

We say we are standing.
Really we are swaying like insects.

Or someone on the sea.

The moths are chewing.
Waning: less and less light.
Fuck me on this day

with clouds.

Jesse Della Riley is a genderfluid poet from Georgia and is currently completing an MFA at the University of Massachusetts.


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