Roger Reeves

And what is to be their punishment—the men already whipped
By a tanager’s scarlet warble, a lash meant for a mule

Mastering their back? Bridled and bride-groomed, they come
Bearing an unseen leopard bearing a dead hart, a dead running

With each kick and smile and grin. Guitar guts Rome for home-
Going services. Long boat the body made to carry the dead.

That’s it, that’s it! Step it up lively! Lightening launches the lunatic.
Rickety rod rouses the black bottom line. Black bottom,

Black bottom, mistaken for a plucked fig drying on a white
Carpet, what does the merchant see in your plague-less eyes,

The wilderness you come out of like a pillar of smoke?
What drives a man to rest his feet on the earth and axe into flesh?

How long can a man lie in dung and straw before the animals come
With their teeth and test their disbelief—and hunger? Devour.


Roger Reeves is an American poet and the author of King Me (Copper Canyon Press, 2013). His poems have appeared in journals such as Poetry, Ploughshares, American Poetry Review, Boston Review, and Tin House, among others. He currently teaches at the University of Illinois, Chicago.