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A native of southern California, Gregory Emilio has recent work out in Best New Poets, Crab Orchard Review, F(r)iction, Nashville Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, The Southeast Review, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. He's the Nonfiction Editor at New South, and a PhD candidate in English at Georgia State University in Atlanta.
Whetstone Sapphics
By Gregory Emilio

Scrape and drag the blade and the whetstone sings its
Only song, the rasp of the dead, the dying
Cackle, fading breath like a candle crying,
Wait, there’s still light here—

Back and forth, the shucking of iron atoms,
Wheezing, giving, grinding to nothing. Listen:
Mountains whittled down by the wind, the ocean
Gnawing a cliff like

Gnarly bread, the tongue of a cat: your salty
Skin. Forgive the stone for the music made of
Wearing away, for the grating roar of wars.
Listen: it’s our song.

Darling, dance with me under the moon, hanging 
Like an onion, hiding its sugars, sweetness
Locked in cells, praying for escape: flames, butter,
Breath: a well-honed blade.
My Mother and My Father in the Kitchen
By Gregory Emilio

Day before my brother’s wedding,
the kitchen humming with dusk, 
rusty light like the mottled patina 
on the carbon steel blade my father 
slips through onions, eyes shimmering.

Beside the sink, brows scrunched, 
my mother peels potatoes, 
the skins gliding into the trash bin,
the room singing with the swift
raspy tune of honed edges.

And I, who have no memory
of when they were still married, 
stand between them, sipping 
a bottle of beer, late light trapped 
in the glass like ancient amber.
A Farmers Market in Georgia
By Gregory Emilio

It’s spring in the South and everything 
is crazy in bloom—dogwoods, redbuds, 
pollen shaking the air like an overheated 
lover, and I tumble like a dandelion spore 
toward Your Dekalb Farmers Market, 
just past the neon dayglow of a strip club, 
lured by the tender shoots of spring garlic, 
the reclusive ramps, and all the alliums
make me think of dear dead Frank O’Hara 
slashing up from the soil like a voice needing 
to gab, sun-hungry for black coffee, cigarettes, 
a few sips of Strega—how briskly he coasts 
here now in his white-collared shirt, 
nonchalant, dabs of chocolate malted 
dappled on his cuffs. Raw, uprooted, 
I watch him stroll past the collards 
sweating in their bins, the lusty bundles 
of basil, knobs of galangal, trumpet 
mushrooms, dragon fruit and durian 
poised alien and askew, the air perfumed 
with pasillas, anchos, and chiles de arbol, 
and don’t get me started on the oblong 
avocados growing dreamy-green 
in their brown husks, or the grandmas 
sniffing strawberries for the stained lips 
of childhood—we’re all here, you, me, 
Frank, and you, and you too, all of us 
present in this vegetal landscape 
of food harvested by human hands, 
and my burlap sacks are stuffed 
but feasible and a woman with lilac 
bags under her eyes whose nametag 
says she speaks Farsi, Aramaic, and English, 
hums PLU’s as she rings up my fruit, 
her hijab bright as a chive blossom,  
and when she hands me my change 
our fingers touch—and I mouth 
thanks as she nods toward the door: 
Frank fading with a handful of figs.