Shonté Daniels
Alligator Mississippiensis

Shonté Daniels - Alligator Mississippiensis

Poetry
Shonté Daniels is a poet and games journalist. She is currently an editorial associate at Rewire. Her poetry has appeared… Read more »
Michele Leavitt
Ash Box

Michele Leavitt - Ash Box

Poetry
Michele Leavitt, a poet and essayist, is also a high school dropout, hepatitis C survivor, and former trial attorney. Recent… Read more »
Laura Donnelly
Birding

Laura Donnelly - Birding

Poetry
Laura Donnelly’s first book, Watershed, won the 2013 Cider Press Review Editors’ Prize. Her poetry has appeared recently in Passages… Read more »
Philip Schaefer
Portrait for the Anti-Refugee Campaign in Ravalli County, MT

Philip Schaefer - Portrait for the Anti-Refugee Campaign in Ravalli County, MT

Poetry
Philip Schaefer’s debut collection Bad Summon won the Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize from the University of Utah Press and… Read more »
Roy Bentley
The Keno Caller at the Oxford Cafe in Missoula

Roy Bentley - The Keno Caller at the Oxford Cafe in Missoula

Poetry
Roy Bentley is the author of four collections of poetry, including Starlight Taxi (Lynx House: 2013), which won the 2012… Read more »

Alligator Mississippiensis

Shonté Daniels

1955: My grandmother heads to New Jersey
to heal torn ankles. Her feet feel cratered
by the dirt roads she’s worn herself out on, fleeing.

Please, she says, let work and love be plentiful
in the north. Southern swamps could not break her
dark knees pointing towards New Jersey.

Grandpa waits, scale dressed, sharp tongue’d in the city
where they’ll find a hole to make a family. Granny’s gator
husband does not know the difference between running and fleeing,

or how she can do both. His bellow lives in Granny’s
stomach, a constant humming of her past. Decades later
I hear her low gospel voice in my head, rolling smoke in New Jersey.

Their love is a stench that lingers, phlegm he spits through his teeth.
Grandpa holds his hands out, either to welcome his wife home, or
to catch her mid-flight to stop her from her fleeing.

When she’s made it, she will see her new home is still Mississippi
with less acres. Could life up here really be much greater?
She settles her body—family bound—in New Jersey
but I hear her humming an old tune, music in fleeing.
Read more »