Jona Colson

Five Poems by Jona Colson

The Beautiful Drowned Man

Black-matted hair
slippery flesh

I fished him from the sea
pulling him from warm water
easily and gently
like a blue scarf
from a pulsing neck

How beautiful he is

and how lost I had been
on a dark, cold night
before he stirred
and troubled
the pools of mud
around my feet.



Here are animal and aquatic—creatures
hiding in their swollen beds.

There are a few ways to disappear: forget
the names of friends, be an apparition

or a ghost whose weight is in limbo.
Here are history and atlas—language, tongue,

and literal. How embarrassing to be so close
to failing in love and strung up by the ankles

until the truth falls out like aviary and devour
a whole summer ushering out flies that ate pink at the bone.

Beth Ojalvo, “Filtered Light,” acrylic and mixed media on Bristol board, 20″ x 30″, 2019.

My Mother Called

Tonight, my mother called to say
the crepe myrtle is blooming

purple and deep red, and
there are three more tomatoes

on the vine—
ready to pick in a few days.

I know it is not easy to rise.
To look at the miles behind.

Soon she will need new
clothes to guard her ebbed

skin, too shivery
for a Sunday blouse.

Call me tomorrow.
Tell me more about the cupped life

of fever blooms, the waning
green of the backyard fruits.

No one is spared.


Dear Piano

What I want from you
is a full moon face—

a hangnail chord that runs
around the dinner plates.

A way to cool the afternoon
with sugared fingers down my back

and spiral from a balcony
in small calcium fragments.

I want you to be a silk scarf
pulled from Satie or Vivaldi.

A way to love what love
does and pin like a clasp—

a needle spark of a bee’s attention,
to remind me that some things

are finished and flutter
where the hollow used to be.



It wasn’t until a few years
before he died when I came

down the stairs on a Saturday
morning and saw my father

by the kitchen window,
shirtless, ironing fresh

blue tea towels,
that I understood why

my mother fell in love.


“The Beautiful Drowned Man,” “Latin,” and “Lesson” are reprinted from Said Through Glass with permission of the author.



Jona Colson is the author of Said Through Glass (WWPH, 2018), winner of the Jean Feldman Poetry Prize from the Washington Writers' Publishing House. He received his BA in English and Spanish from Goucher College, a Master of Arts in Linguistics from George Mason University, and a Master of Fine Arts from American University. His poems have appeared in Ploughshares, The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, and The Massachusetts Review. He is an associate professor of ESL at Montgomery College in Maryland and lives in Washington, DC.