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"And Abraham “And Abraham looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace,” by Adam Mysock; Courtesy of Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans

Two Poems

The Peach State

You used to bite your lips lying there on my couch
receiving my massages 
after long chemistry tutorials 
we were classmates and being-touched 
was how you touched me back

Your scented lotion thighs my first open-sesame 
your snap “Watch It Boy!” you had a boyfriend then

Same as the tour guide at Monticello saying 
it was just as likely TJ’s brother was the one 
who slept with Sally Hemings 
or my saying TJ had Phoenician blood 
and was partly Mohammadan

Your brother gave you your nickname you said
thin water jets used to miss you in the shower

I said I loved that part of your body 
“They’re called love handles” 
you taught me and smiled 

Your father a doctor who worked as if he’d live forever
prayed as if he’d die tomorrow
another Mohammadan motto 
Benjamin Franklin abided by

Your mother wanted you to marry me after I’d made my bed
I never did kiss you or had known a first kiss

Your sorority perfume and banana Honda 
my kneading 
what bulged of your breasts while you lay there
cat hair all around us 

Listen to Fady Joudah read “The Peach State”

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The elliptical staircase is my new revolution 
it will lead me to memory muscle memory 
without looking at the man on fire 

An immolation of unintended emulation
by the powers fisted in me I pronounce us 
Pyrrhus and Pyrrha pyre and pyrenoid

Because a return to the dictionary is a return to God

The fluttering nostrils of someone laughing
neighbor a mouth quivering like an arrow
but what kind of arrow and was there a bow

Electric cables split city trees like afros before braiding 
and trucks scalp them into arches by the side of the road 
saying No growth below this point

But what tree and what bird

And the blossoms had endings
inevitable to be believed 
we've been burned by this before
burned but no flame ever touched us 

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Dorianne Laux

Dorianne Laux is the author of several poetry collections, most recently The Book of Men. The recipient of many national grants and awards, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, Laux lives in Raleigh, where she is the director of the MFA program at North Carolina State University.