The 2River View 24.4 (Summer 2020)

Despy Boutris

Fourth of July

how his hands found your waist, tightening // on you // the cigarette-scent // of his breath as he leaned // toward you & you leaned away // & he moved in // closer, a parenthesis that just kept bending // folding in on itself // until it crushed what lay below // you // your limpish form // growing cold at his touch // how you couldn’t speak // as he lowered his face // tongue thrusting into your mouth // through your teeth, // as he tried to take you fullbody // into him // & you closed your eyes // don’t cry don’t cry // & you felt the air // become a cage you couldn’t escape // his lips // like poison as he killed you // slowly // & the dying just kept going

A Warm Wind

rustles the leaves
(that sealike sound) with waves
of heat rising from the asphalt,
the black burning the soles
of your feet (walking barefoot
down the road). A glass jar
in hand, a hand reaching out
toward the grasses, the brambles,
hungry for the taste of summer
(and what tastes more like summer
than blackberries, excluding
the smoke rising from the hills,
the reminder that wherever
there is fire there is something
aflame?). Smoke so close
it strokes your hair (the scent
of inescapable heat). Its taste
at home in throats. And it’s hard
to tell this morning from mourning
(with this heat, these flames,
this smoke, strangling everything).

Despy Boutris is published or forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Colorado Review, Copper Nickel, Prairie Schooner, Southern Indiana Review, and elsewhere. Currently, she teaches at the University of Houston and serves as Assistant Poetry Editor for Gulf Coast.

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