20th Anniversary Reflections
Katy Richey’s work first appeared in the journal in The Science of Love Issue (Spring 2007, Volume 8:2), guest edited by Kwame Alexander. She subsequently appeared in two special themed issues: The Evolving City Issue (Fall 2007, Volume 8:4), guest edited by Teri Ellen Cross Davis with Kim Roberts; and the Cave Canem 20th Anniversary Issue (Spring 2017, Volume 18:2, guest edited by Holly Bass and Joel Dias-Porter). Richey served as guest co-editor for the Langston Hughes Tribute Issue (Winter 2011, Volume 12:1, with Kim Roberts).
Richey writes, “The 2012 Langston Hughes Tribute Issue was my first experience as an editor. I learned a lot about what I am personally drawn to in poems and how poems can be in conversation with each other. The experience had a tremendous impact on my own work and understanding of craft.”
The lights are on. You are heavy
in sleep––our skin burns where
it touches, my arm bent under
your shoulder, our legs welded
beneath the sheet. You’ve crashed,
reading about the other America.
Two weeks ago you returned
to this undisciplined landscape
of a bed. Tomorrow you will
soft-boil eggs with sea-salt and chives
and I’ll learn it’s not for good.
I want to return to my dream
of you laying in the grass, hands
locked behind your head dripped
with sweat and heaven so low
you open your mouth to taste
its wet rhinestone of clouds.
I am stuck between dreams, underneath us
is the emulsified sky. This longing
is the book you hold in limp fingers
that will wake you when it falls.
Into the Bluest Part
When you’ve seen the city in her undergarments,
the blushing between you is romance.
Walk her alleys in search of music––you will know
what it’s like on the tracks when the train is coming.
Call her mistress and you are a fool.
You will make love, but she is distracted.
What does she know of yearning?
A city has no need for the moon’s white skull.
Look up at the sky, past the stark towers.
There’s blue beyond her darkness.
In my garden, an uprising has begun. I dig on my knees.
I fill my hands with earth, search for root. I excise them.
But in the morning, they rise again.
I visit the stores. I call my mother. And finally resort to prayer.
But nothing works. I continue to pull, throw their wilted stems
on the concrete.
Then, one afternoon, I see loveliness. First the crabgrass—
the cavalry. Next the dreadlocked broadleaf plantain and the horse nettle—
the pepperweed florets, dandelion, white clover, hairy bittercress,
and the bull thistle, so wooly and brazen it’s had laws passed against it.
I almost want to let them have the field, to watch them take it
overnight. Take every inch of space in the grass.
The doctor told me it would be this way,
I would wake to noxious mornings.
Find some peace in the process, she said. She didn’t tell me
at night I would dream of growing.
“Into the Bluest Part” first appeared in Cincinnati Review. “Recovery” first appeared in Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Anthology, University of Georgia Press, 2018. Reprinted with permission of the author.
Katy Richey's work has appeared in Rattle, Cincinnati Review, Rhino, and The Offing. She received an honorable mention for the Cave Canem Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the Tupelo Press Snowbound Chapbook Poetry Award. Richey has received fellowships from Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, Callaloo Creative Writing Workshops, and the Cave Canem Foundation. She is also the recipient of a Fine Arts Work Center Walker Scholarship for Writers of Color and a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award. She is a member of the Black Ladies Brunch Collective. To read more by this author: Katy Richey: Spring 2007 Katy Richey: Evolving City Issue