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About this poet

Nicole Sealey was born in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and raised in Apopka, Florida. She received an MFA from New York University and an MLA in Africana studies from the University of South Florida. Sealey is the author of Ordinary Beast (Ecco Press, 2017), which was a finalist for the PEN Open Book and Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards. Her chapbook, The Animal After Whom Other Animals are Named (Northwestern University Press, 2016), was the winner of the 2016 Drinking Gourd Chapbook Prize. In 2019, Sealey was named a 2019-2020 Hodder Fellow at Princeton University. She has received fellowships and awards from CantoMundo, the Cave Canem Foundation, the American Academy in Rome, and the Elizabeth George Foundation, among others. She is Executive Director at the Cave Canem Foundation and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Even the Gods

Even the gods misuse the unfolding blue. Even the gods misread the windflower’s nod toward sunlight as consent to consume. Still, you envy the horse that draws their chariot. Bone of their bone. The wilting mash of air alone keeps you from scaling Olympus with gifts of dead or dying things dangling from your mouth—your breath, like the sea, inching away. It is rumored gods grow where the blood of a hanged man drips. You insist on being this man. The gods abuse your grace. Still, you’d rather live among   the clear, cloudless white, enjoying what is left of their ambrosia. Who  should  be  happy  this  time?  Who  brings  cake  to whom? Pray  the  gods  do  not  misquote  your  covetous pulse for chaos, the black from which they were conceived. Even the eyes of gods must adjust to light. Even gods have gods.

Copyright © 2017 by Nicole Sealey. Originally published in Ploughshares. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2017 by Nicole Sealey. Originally published in Ploughshares. Used with permission of the author.

Nicole Sealey

Nicole Sealey is the author of Ordinary Beast (Ecco Press, 2017). She is the Executive Director at the Cave Canem Foundation, and lives in Brooklyn, New York. 

by this poet

poem

If you’ve read the “Candelabra with Heads”
that appears in this collection and the one
in The Animal, thank you. The original,
the one included here, is an example, I’m told,
of a poem that can speak for itself, but loses
faith in its ability to do so by

2
poem

i.  

“Hands down, mustard
is the tastiest condiment,” coughed Professor Plum—
his full mouth feigning hunger for the greens-
only sandwiches Mrs. White
laid out for Mr. Boddy’s guests. Miss Scarlet
hadn’t time to peel off her peacoat

before the

poem

[For Petra]

Scientists say the average human
life gets three months longer every year.
By this math, death will be optional. Like a tie
or dessert or suffering. My mother asks
whether I’d want to live forever.
“I’d get bored,” I tell her. “But,” she says,
“there’s so much to do