"Who Can Govern Themselves Out of Governance?" by A. H. Jerriod Avant

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January 13, 2023 

Who Can Govern Themselves Out of Governance?

A. H. Jerriod Avant

if I could be somewhere
I wasn’t I would be there

or I would have already
paid that place some

cold and charitable visit.
if you knew how wealthy

I wasn’t you would run.
I cannot remember

what I was before I tried
to become what I thought

I could in light of the
dark that swallowed me.

the story of how I thought
I had not been pure and

had not been enough. how
I was not there though I

had been but was gone
after what I did not

know I did not need
came. how do you fix

that which the house
has no tools to fix?

where is the resolve as
bright as the wet face

of a child, the sight of the
rigid origin of the break?

Copyright © 2023 by A. H. Jerriod Avant. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 13, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

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“Home, mobility, and the revision of life are the tracks my thinking traveled down when I went and thought of making this poem. That whole ‘being in two places at one time’ thing . . . that ‘gettin’ out of one’s own way’ thing . . . self-perception and that of others once we make it out into the larger world . . . that ‘puttin’ on face for work’ thing . . . The way these internal motivations manifest externally, revolving and circling our lives in the same way a pack of vultures makes laps in the air above fresh roadkill.”
A. H. Jerriod Avant

A. H. Jerriod Avant is the author of Muscadine, forthcoming in 2023 from Four Way Books. The recipient of support from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and Vermont Studio Center, he serves as a teaching fellow in English at Wesleyan University. He is originally from Longtown, Mississippi.

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