ALL ACCOUNTS AND MIXTURE: Two New Poems from R. Flowers Rivera


Past tense: clear dusks I remember a feeling, an image, grit in the eye.
A place embedded like a splinter I can’t quite reach. Grove Hill, a voice
buried within that refuses to answer back. All my life, in any place,
for no reason, my grandfather’s 280 acres call out my name. Free and clear.
Sister Gary, Gay, Gaynette. But all those stale breaths have gone somewhere
else. Cool dirt, open graves. I have outlived them all. My recollections
remain imperfect as I tell and re-tell the tales. As they are—or were
—not necessarily as I would’ve chosen them. A people without luster,
napworn yet proud. Unlearned, but not ignorant. The Grove Hill of memory
has plum-flowered chinaberry trees festooning the fence-line, just off
Highway 43. It’s still blooming, it still holds last year’s ornaments. Birds
scatter the golden berries everywhere. I know I’m nearing home. Drought.
We endured difficult times, growing from that hard, red clay. I’m still here.
Just to be clear, being hot and humid ain’t suffering. All grief is not death.

Gulf of Mexico, 1969

                 after Hurricane Camille

tell me
about rapidly forming
perfect storms, 
about a kiss
that can transport you
through the blandness
of living. I am that
with him. But
I opened the egret
feathers he brought
as a gift. And I knew
they required
the wholesale destruction
of the nest.
I see now
how my date’s
idea of beauty,
of perfection
will require
nothing less than
my death. Only then
he won’t be satisfied
because I won’t be
here to comfort him
in his grief.

About the Author:
R. Flowers Rivera is a Mississippi native who now lives in McKinney, Texas. Her second collection of poetry, Heathen, was released in February 2015. It was selected as the winner of the 2015 Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award as well as the 2016 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Poetry Award. Rivera's debut collection of poetry, Troubling Accents), received a nomination from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters and was selected by the Texas Association of Authors as its 2014 Poetry Book of the Year. It was published by Xavier Review Press in July 2013. Dr. Rivera has an Ph.D. from Binghamton University, an M.A. from Hollins University, an M.S. from Georgia State University, and a B.S. from The University of Georgia. She is a guest lecturer in creative writing at the University of Texas at Dallas.

About All Accounts:
All Accounts and Mixture is an annual online feature celebrating the work of LGBTQ writers and artists. For this series, we seek work from authors who self-identify as "queer," while acknowledging that this designation is subjective and highly personal. Our goal is to provide a forum for writers whose voices might be mis- or underrepresented by the literary mainstream. Submissions open May 18th and run through June 19th. Poetry, prose, visual art, reviews and interviews will all be considered.