After Boyd Rivers

            “All the medicine you can buy, all the doctors you can hire
             You got to take sick and die one of these days.”

Better hope you got a holy friend
Jar full of teeth and a lamp made of tin

Enough black thread to mend the hole
Last day of winter and the last of the coal

Man said there’s poison in the well
Bullet in the mare and a hammer on the bell

Mae said she’s seen an owl downtown
Six dogs lost and seven dogs found

Two bulbs burnt in the churchyard sign
Candle in the window and a father in the mine

You gone take sick and die they say
Man should have a suit just in case it’s today



Mississippi Chiasm

           “He can talk, he can eat, he can lie.”

This happened back when things happened
and near no one ever knew it even happened.
Othar Turner played fife and I watch him play
at a latenight picnic, nineteen seventy eight,
and the earth that night pulled itself up into
a knot of people, milling, we used to say,
a few bright bulbs casting moths across faces,
a half dozen drums and that’s about all playing
somewhere to the left till Othar steps in.
He says, pointing, Watch me, now. That
means I’ll tell you something, I got something
ain’t no one can take from me. The lord give it,
that’s it. If I don’t wake my fingers,
you ain’t ever getting no sound out of this.
I’m telling you, ain’t nothing but a whistle.
This happened back when things happened
and near no one ever knew it even happened.


~  ~  ~
ConreySean M. Conrey is an assistant director in the Project Advance program at Syracuse University, where he also teaches in the English and Textual Studies department. His first full length book of poetry, The Word in Edgewise, was published by Brick Road Poetry Press in 2014, and his poems have appeared in American Letters and Commentary, Cream City Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Midwest Quarterly, Notre Dame Review and Tampa Review, among others. A chapbook of his poems, A Conversation with the Living, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2009 and his monograph Coming to Terms with Place, a theoretical work concerned with how language affects our sense of place, was published in 2007. An album of original songs, Hosmer and Ninth, recorded with The Mercury City String Band, a revolving group of musicians, is available on CD and online through Creative Commons.