This Is Persimmons

Kyle Churney

Sticky on the fingertips not sucked because

it was in front of your mom, savoring

the pulp despite its white freezer-pocks—

she was saving it for me—you said

There’s a poem in that but how the fuck

could I write on command & have it

not be maudlin (they warmed me & I was

moved) or narrative ABCs, he grew &

dried them, died, we met & I ate your

grandfather’s Tanenashi persimmons?

Today I found out I could die, & maybe

in twelve years I will still be striking

this cowbell of tedium, still frisking

essays for shekels like a racist cop.

What do I know that my body does?

One day I am switching lanes at moderate

speeds, clutching my penis like a baby,

the next I have fallen asleep on a couch &

wake, the yoke & sleeves of time pulled

inside-out, on a glacial plain where

people cling like UPCs, living their best

anxieties. American flags burbling in

breeze speak beyond the pursed lips

of their raisers: Look like me or don’t

live. Look at the folded hands of one

who assembled bombs, the bomb factory

bombed, who with a needle & twine

strung fruit in his yard—for beauty, for

the pleasures of sucrose & habit. Years

fled, scattered, disguised themselves

as comfort, until now, here, where a

partnership of cardinals flit in a bare

Japanese maple that looks like a bald

man with his cap off. Yes, yes, we have

loved, killed, but the miracle is this

ordinary light, this tic of sweetness

in which I’ve moment to say—

Listen to the collaborative recording below, with a reading by the author and music improvised by Mai Sugimoto.

MAI SUGIMOTO is a saxophonist, composer, and active member of Chicago’s jazz and improvisational music scene. Sugimoto is also a core member of the quartet Hanami. Her first solo album, monologue (Asian Improv Records) was released in 2021.

Kyle Churney is a finalist for the National Poetry Series, a recipient of the Literary Award from the Illinois Arts Council, and former fellow at the MacDowell Colony. A native of rural Illinois, he lives in Chicago, where he teaches at a community college.
Originally published:
March 29, 2023


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