Saint Valentine

by Christopher Johnson-Roberson


His body shattered by stones

or other acts known only to God.

A lily stem aslant in a glass jar,

its petals fallen off, all fragrance

gone from them, only the stamen

sticking out, its anthers

furred with black pollen.

I will never have a child

born of my flesh. No miracle

swaddled in lambskin

ever arrives. I know this as I know

life-saving blood could be sucked

out of anyone’s veins not yours,

not anymore, if you’ve — with a man

even one time since 1977. Sin

conceived of before we were born,

visited upon us again. The state

furthers its legitimate interest

by telling us to die.

Meanwhile all across America

people give each other flowers.

Chew them to pulp, spit through a sieve,

strain the crushed mass into a foliate shroud.



Chris Johnson-Roberson is a graduate student at Brown University in Providence, RI.