Home > Poetry > Outside Tallahassee
Published: Wed Apr 15 2020
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
AGNI 91 Animals Journeys Mysteries
Outside Tallahassee

At the base of a waterfall, a boy
offers to sell me his chameleon
and I ask if I can pay for it in stars.
Mist leaps off the rocks—the night is warm
and the spray emboldens me.
How about those two, the twins,
I say, pointing toward Castor + Pollux
clinking like silver coins in the southern sky.
Make it the Little Dipper, he insists,
so I reach to bend down the Little Dipper
and the three of us pretend to drink
the thin, piquant cosmos. When the ladle empties,
he tucks the constellation in his back pocket
like a slingshot and retreats down the hillside.
In the moon dark, my chameleon’s sharp toes
grip my skin as he climbs my limbs,
the astral sheen on his lips gleaming
like the astral sheen on mine.

See what's inside AGNI 91
The Golden Eagle
by Aase Berg
Translated from the Swedish by Johannes Göransson
Online 2021 Animals Mysteries Journeys
Online 2023 Mysteries Journeys Youth

Benjamin Gucciardi is the author of the chapbook I Ask My Sister’s Ghost (DIAGRAM / New Michigan Press, 2020). His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review, Harvard Review, Indiana ReviewAGNIOrion, Third Coast, The Best New Poets, and elsewhere. He has won Iron Horse Literary Review’s Trifecta Poetry prize, the Milton Kessler Memorial Prize from Harpur Palate, and the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize. He works with refugee and immigrant youth in Oakland. (updated 4/2020)

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