“Joe-Pye Weed” by Jeff Mann

Old rose courier of decay,
I join the first cold night-rains driving

the windows down, the wind-wake
bustle of redtop grass introducing

autumn along interstate medians
across Appalachia. A small

purple spot stains the sole
of the foot, silver moss spreads

across the temple’s black. I am the heart’s
arrhythmia, standing dizzy in the shower,

yellowjackets in their obsessive concentrics
about orchard windfalls. I am the sawdust

clue the termite leaves, someone else’s
scent in your lover’s moustache.


Jeff Mann has published five books of poetry, Bones Washed with Wine, On the Tongue, Ash, A Romantic Mann, and Rebels; two collections of essays, Edge and Binding the God; a book of poetry and memoir, Loving Mountains, Loving Men; six novels, Fog, Purgatory, Cub, Salvation, Country, and Insatiable; and three volumes of short fiction, A History of Barbed Wire, Desire and Devour, and Consent.  With Julia Watts, he co-edited LGBTQ Fiction and Poetry from Appalachia.  The winner of two Lambda Literary Awards and four National Leather Association International literary awards, he teaches creative writing at Virginia Tech.