Anya Creightney

Five Poems by Anya Creightney


Honey, you are so quiet the crickets of your heart must be chirping; night breeze still as stone. I hold you as one would a pillow—its soft downy center, a gift. Little one, all over the world children laugh like you; giggles like purple pansies—their urge to sing incomplete, but intense. You are so much electricity or else a star—the galaxy an enormous wound and you fantastic halogen. What they haven’t told you is, your smallness is only temporary. Or more accurate, your size, your tiny body, is iridescent pearlglow—a ceaseless wave. If you struggle honeyheart, if you weep at the mouth of the river, the sand’s dampness clinging to your feet, it is only awe, only heat of what you already know. The earth is like that: a voice within a voice; light obscuring light. We are always turning. I am always returning to you.



barely frozen water spoke
fluid with desire

i translated for you failing
to tell it right

i said
your voice is deaf
to moon’s grey eye

i meant
your body is rain
grazing a bald tree branch

how i fib swollen
with you

how mistranslation belies

the animal between
your legs (dream of)

a wedge of tongue
like candied lemon (need for)

our collision like handmade
nicknames (result of)

i decided best
way out

translate tell
i am lonely as a teacup

Conversation Unsent

Mama, did I tell you the sun is out and warmth swaddles

me as one would an overgrown watermelon?

Or that during the poetry reading, I feared I’d cry in public,

and promptly feared I couldn’t cry at all?

Did I tell you I imagined stowing explosives on the bus—

I waited for the handcuffs

not the explosion. I’ve read about fantasies like these; psychologists say

my ideas mean something quite normal:

a fear of going unseen. Mama, today is a brisk 32 degrees and

the living room is set to 75.

Some days ago I bought a homeless man a sandwich and avoided

telling anyone. His cheekbones remind me of

men I love best. He chose meatball; I chose turkey.

Mama, did I tell you the sky is as full as a protuberance;

the sun a little surprised to gleam

atop the snow? Or that yesterday I read

Rilke in the library and felt exquisite because he simplified life

to “house,” “gate,” “tree” or

at most: “column or tower.” I said I slept well, exhausted and dreamless.

I’m sure I did.

I didn’t tell you loneliness tastes like waning autumn. At 4:00pm

the streets are quiet.

My brain is as straight as earth’s longitude and the sun is out Mama.

For that, I am glad.


Ars Poetica with Fever

after the snowstorm
I made myself ill
constructed sentences
like a charm bracelet

(a real humpty dumpty)

and when the telephone rang
I wore my big hair
like a hat

a huge hot hat

no that can’t be right no

after the snowstorm
a fat truck drove around
the block like a saltlick

dogs walked themselves
home and our yard was dirty

(I got in bed with a bad case
of metaphor)

I drank fizzy drink and tolerated
my leaky face

I dreamt I fell over
board though a broad navy
man spotted me
thrashing in oversize
camouflage pajamas

(no dramatics I merely fell
for aquamarine)

when I woke syntax
was burning up its odd force
pure dynamite

when I woke light
went in my body my body
one atomic flower after another


Travel Kit

When I say pump, I am a secret secretor. Mystic cream of lymph; white twinkle blooming. So many misunderstand the basics. For instance, breast milk makes TSA fluster, go firm. “I’ll need to see inside the bag, ma’am.” Fat-laden liquid floating there, waiting to soothe. In the airplane the device is innocuous—my little sucker fish, my food-grade silicone twins. Right there my ducts slosh and swell. I am thunder, one long stream of current. How he must dream of me, so far away. Me, a saccharine blur, singing softly through recycled air. I have waited a long time to pour some volume of me into the right container. A thousand miles away, he gasps in the night. His dream: a rose petal, his mouth suckling air. I admire his unyielding propulsion; how his whole body moves as desire, always shifting. I know flight attendants have seen it all. Gate agents in Louisiana pronounce dry ice with true idiosyncrasy. Yes, I landed. Full of charge. Back home, he is a fecund waterway; a night dazzle.


Robert Revere, “Apple Trees,” Gelatin silver print, 10″ x 13″, 2018.


Anya Creightney is originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico with roots in Jamaica and Denmark. A poet, editor and Cave Canem fellow, she is the Programs Manager at the Poetry and Literature Center in the Library of Congress.