Shay Alexi


there is so much tension in a Georgian January / like / you know / an eighth
grade crush / or / a sitcom couple / will-they-or-won’t-they / in today’s
episode / Georgia brings January a bouquet / an arrangement of clogged
highways & peach trees / (typical) / January’s cheeks go hot / December &
February gossip, hardly / recognize her anymore, this pink & jaunting /
dare of a friend / on thursday / January picks Georgia up from the airport /
knits a scarf out of I-85 & curls it / about her neck, a chill runs / down the
spine of the South & in / through the gap in the car window’s teeth

there is so much tension between / my hand & a Georgian January / in the
year 2088 / they will uncover / my tombstone & the script will read / she
who ached to hold that which was unholdable

in January I am riding / shotgun, in January / I write only in the present
tense / in the year 2048 / I will uncover / my first drafts & in that moment /
it will still be a little January / my fingers still / busy at the corners of / an
oxymoron of a southern winter / what is / holding hands / but the attempt to
latch on to / a horizon as it passes, to clasp / something living above ground
/ but before the sky

there is so much tension between / my mouth & my lover’s fingers / I hold
their second knuckle / beneath my lips, set it / down on the altar / of the
center console, an offering / left for the gods of survival / you know / of
this road trip / or / a night out / or / our own hands

there is so much tension between / my mouth & my lover’s mouth / in a
Georgian January / as / like the winter / we were not intended / to get along
so well / here / in today’s episode / I bring my partner a bouquet / an
arrangement of all the words I forgot / the boys called me / (typical) / their
cheeks go hot / on Thursday / my partner picks me up from the airport /
crafts a sweater out of their own / body & shelters me / in it’s tight knit, a
chill runs / down the spine of the South & in / through the gaps of the car
window’s teeth

there is so much tension between / the space separating our bodies &
everywhere else / what is love but the keeping / of a heart that resides in
two countries / why must we be made / to live anywhere / but here

in this episode / another southerner asks / if I have a boyfriend / tells me /
how much he hates the winter / & somewhere / January tries on a
swimsuit / decides she hates / the shape of it all

on Thursday / the northerners fashion Georgia / into a pocket knife / her
mother South / a hatchet, & tuck / them beneath their tongues / speak on
everything they do not know / except about what grows here

in January I am riding / shotgun & consider / how many offerings can I fit /
onto the center console / is there any god / I can pray to that will save us /
from granting the dignity of our knees / our hands / to a false deity / He of
belts / & / badges / & / bodies that don’t feel / like ours ?

take all my rosemary / take every chamomile flower / let me pour out /
from every honey jar / for You / tell me / your favorite candles / take every
dog eared page / take my bath water / with the good soaps / take all my
firsts / I’ll make better seconds / take every ex boyfriend / good riddance /
take the songs / all of them / it’s fine / take my hand / I’ll let them hold
everything else / take everything else / & leave my hand

please grant us the practice of holding / grant us the privilege of safety

grant us this warm winter / this oasis of ripe country / that just for once /
loves us back





a single integer may not be a part of a sum so long as she is not a fully realized integer.


so long as two integers exist, flawed or otherwise, they may better serve themselves and each other if given the chance to multiply.

whereas                                    [my hand]
the sum of two parts               [my hand]                [your hand]
together make                                              [hand]²
a new figure                                         [conjunction of joys]
so do the pieces                       [hand]                                  [hand]
retain their wholeness             [mine]                                   [yours]
while concurrently existing              [applause in caesura]
as one                                                   [prayer of ovation]

and whereas                                    [the sound of clapping]
two parts exist                           [my right]                             [your left]
as single integer                                 [sustained fastening]
might other factors                   [mouth]                               [mouth]
entwine as many                                           [mouth]²
become newly singular                                  [      ]
while coincidentally                                 [a tandem gasp]
ever more their own                  [muscle, slack]                  [buzzing]

thus two                                     [me]                                           [you]
may more clearly become       [keen]                              [buoyancy]
themselves entwined                          [hair, sheets, knotted]
yet independent                                             [me][you]²
so one might be engulfed        M                  (you)                         E
but never vanished                   Y                   O       (me)                U
rather itself                                [grace]                       &                 [blade]
infinitely multiplied                                         [you x me]

Shay Alexi is a poet, performance artist, and illustrator based out of Atlanta, GA. They are the author of Diary of a Ghost Girl (Glass Poetry Press), and their work has been featured by The Rumpus, PANK, and Apogee, amongst others. Read more of Shay’s work at


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