Ashley M. Jones
only, in this world, I’m not me. or, I’m me and not me simultaneously—my dream-self is split. the me part watches the other me—a man I knew when we were both children here in reality; a man I knew to have trouble walking—we didn’t focus on the medical specifics back then—my school was such that it erased those arbitrary boundaries; I knew this boy as charismatic and kind; I saw this boy a few months back—a man now, as time has chipped away the fat in our cheeks and the white in our eyes—and his spirit was the same, so full of a tender love I always wished I could crawl into; the kind of man who looks at his mother with a softness of a man who loves his mother. in my dream, I am myself and this man, simultaneously. the neighborhood, quiet as a dream, spread out green and tide grey before us. then, the spark: a man walks up—does he bump into me? into the other me? a man walks up and he’s angry—we can see the way his lips stretch against his teeth, the way his rage foams up in little puddles at the corners of his mouth. I’m yelling and I’m yelling at myself to stop yelling, and then I try to run but my legs, they’ve never been so quick, and never quicker than the bullets I feel, sharp blades of light in my back, over and over, the blood metallic and pooling, my breaths interrupted by each new bullet lodging itself into my body. I watch myself writhe in never-death—they say you can’t die in a dream, but I’m wishing for it, I’m looking at myself be killed but never dead, I’m begging myself to just wake up, the man’s hand pinkening against his gun, then his eyes look up at me, the me that isn’t on the ground, and then it’s my turn, and then it’s both of us on the ground, and it’s so green, and the pain, it’s singing now, and maybe if I just lean in in in the pain will feel like a song—
Ashley M. Jones holds an MFA in Poetry from Florida International University, and she is the author of Magic City Gospel and dark / / thing. Her poetry has earned several awards, including the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award, the Silver Medal in the Independent Publishers Book Awards, the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize for Poetry, a Literature Fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize, and the Lucille Clifton Legacy Award. Her poems and essays appear in or are forthcoming at CNN, The Oxford American, Origins Journal, The Quarry by Split This Rock, Obsidian, and many others. She teaches at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, and she is the founding director of the Magic City Poetry Festival.
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