Two Poems by CL Bledsoe

A Burning in the Air

There were things I meant to say
about the struggle to take light in
hand. The longest travail of human
history has been where to find
water and how to take it with
us. Light’s like that. It will be all
around except when we need it.
It’s easy to forget the power of
darkness, the way it quiets the roar
of the world. There is a kind of catfish
in a cave in Kentucky that never
sees light. I’ve lived in houses
like that, full of eyeless complainers.
Light is so forbidding they gave it
names but couldn’t make it love us.
If you look too closely into its
eyes, you lose yours. There are great
penalties for wanting to see things
more clearly. One has to wonder.


Date Night

On our movie date night, you snuck in bourbon,
collapsible cups, Coke, sparkling lemon water.
A woman down the row glared while we got
drunk on a passable superhero movie. Legs
entwined. I have to stop myself from touching
you every few seconds. Your lips, your eyes, so
beautiful my heart sputters like a man proved
wrong. I want you upside down in the back
of my eyes. I want to kiss your neck, your soft
skin against my lips, the smell of your hair. After,
we drank more at the arcade downstairs, played
broken games until we won enough to trade for
a gift for my daughter. You rode home with me,
too wasted to drive, and made scones with too
much sugar while we watched Christmas movies.
Once, you asked me what my happiest memories
were. It’s you, that next morning, curled into my
chest. Your breasts and stomach while you were
getting dressed. The shape of your lips
when you say my name.


Raised on a rice and catfish farm in eastern Arkansas, CL Bledsoe is the author of more than thirty books, including the poetry collections Riceland, The Bottle Episode, and his newest, Having a Baby to Save a Marriage, as well as his latest novels Goodbye, Mr. Lonely and The Saviors. Bledsoe lives in northern Virginia with his daughter.

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