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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, October 2, 2018.
About this Poem 

“‘Out of the Woods’ is a poem that emerged from recent experiences on a research trip to the island of Martinique and teaching in the woods of Saugatuck, Michigan. Playing on the literal and metaphorical meanings of being ‘in the woods’ and ‘out of the woods,’ the poem is a stream-of-consciousness meditation on the paranoia birthed from the history of racially-motivated violence in idyllic settings, my desire to escape urban and digital life, and the fragility of feeling safe in any landscape.”
—Krista Franklin

Out of the Woods

On the way to water, I think, low
moan, heat too deep for me

to reach. A new noise
from a vent in the paper palace. Before,

I bounce off brick
wall, begging for a change;

the door swings open and unhinges
me to the nail. I heard ssssSMH behind me;

you not ready. As it turns out, ticks,
like cops, have a taste for black blood.

The mosquitos made a meal of me
for weeks—their walking Slurpee.

One stuck his straw in my third eye. I spell
him struck blind. My friends compile lists

of things they never knew, read me
for filth. I say in every language, I don’t have

the answers. They don’t believe me.
I stop buying tickets to the shit

show, but no matter the distance,
the smell is pervasive. In the woods,

I learned baby wolves get high
from the scent of hearts bursting

on their Instagram feeds. Serotonin
is a helluva drug. In the clearing, I strain

to hear the echoes of men whose bodies
drag the forest floor. Unfortunately, all

the witnesses withered seventy winters ago.
Blood is a potent fertilizer.

Copyright © 2018 by Krista Franklin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 2, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Krista Franklin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 2, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Krista Franklin

Krista Franklin

Krista Franklin’s most recent poetry collection is Study of Love & Black Body (Willow Books, 2012).