a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
Afar churches fill, I jump and sway, girls whisper of hand jobs, and Memphis ends: white joy through the walls. Shuddering night trains tell us only: Memphis ends. To come over, the bridge is the bridge between Tennessee and Arkansas, headlights do not stop, cut through the mists of our one season. So, they ask, you don’t believe in a future life. I go west when Memphis ends, where the lights are gone. At the bottom of Memphis, suspensions and through-arcs branded on the white arms of girls, how this won’t end. We hold tongues in our mouths, discuss manhood soft in our fingers, foam and cry, scale cables until our fits end. In hell we rent rooms in exchange for our virtue, find reasons to say THIS IS THE VALUE: Memphis ends at the bridge’s end, only a gravel way through a swamp field. Without the lights we cannot watch. When Memphis ends, those who cry are not heard, we know only riverboats that end, only ash on a floodplain, only the end of water, only Arkansas. To end a bridge that exists: find the end of heaven, its clay-thick river, magnolia: blossom and green. Isn’t it “love without end, amen”? Storm beginning, bridge behind me, night lies on. Strays howl on indifferent chains, noisy tanagers flock, see barges cannot go where Memphis ends.
Molly Rose Quinn’s poetry has appeared in Black Warrior Review, PEN Poetry Series, The Offing, The Agriculture Reader, and elsewhere, and her essays, reviews, and criticism have or will appear in The Atlas Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Literary Hub, ESPNw, and Lenny Letter. She lives in New York, where she serves as the Director of Public Programming at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, a nonprofit event venue and social enterprise that raises money to fight AIDS and homelessness. She is a native of Memphis, TN, where she is a co-director with writers Jamey Hatley and Zandria F. Robinson of a new Center for Southern Literary Arts which will break ground in late 2017.