JC Reilly – Poetry


JC Reilly’s poems appear in Southern Women’s Review, the Xavier ReviewFlyover Country Review, Dirty ChaiKentrucky Review, and other journals.  She is the author of the Finishing Line Press chapbook, La Petite Mort, and a 25% author of the Poetry Atlanta anthology, On Occasion:  Four Poets, One Year which came out this past April.  She lives in Atlanta with her husband, three cats, and a sticky-fingered ghost who likes to hide keys and cell phones.

Beware the Maenads

They lose themselves in orgies,
these women.  Feral with grapes

and music, they frenzy—feverish,
raving women who draw honey

from rivers, so transported to bliss
they dance, dance, dance, and devour

the flesh of bears and boars, enrobing
themselves in animal skins to honor

their god, Dionysus, the god
whom you have forsaken for the sun.

The day you worship Apollo
at Mount Pangaion, they will shred

you into a thousand pieces, gnaw
your bones clean for the treachery.

Garden Variety

It wasn’t that the tree’s
wisdom was bitter, she mused,

slicing through translucent
flesh to core another Clapp’s

Favorite English pear
and chewing it thoughtfully.

Rather, what was gained
was somehow less real

than the drizzle beginning
to fall, the scarlet snapdragons

drinking eagerly, the snake
under the rock, marking time.


In my dream, a bride visits
a blue crystal rotunda, where

an elephant lives in sequins and silks.
If it looks at her with its left eye,

her marriage will be happy,
but only as long as the reach

of wild lemongrass.  If it stares
with its right, the couple’s first

thousand days will be as the endless
mangrove, thick with an underscrub

of despair.  But should it fix her
squarely with both eyes, blessings

will fall like a shower of silver
rupees on the bride and groom

till they drown, drown–
and the elephant drowns, to bestow such joy.

Why We Have Night

I catch the sun between my teeth
and hold him there:

he struggles, a fly stuck in a tacky trap,
twisting rays into knots,

like long, yellow hair rarely brushed.
He tries to dazzle me with his flares,

red ribbons splashing around us
till all I see are spots, but I can’t

be bothered with his putting on airs.
He yanks, and curses, and pleads,

and then he stills; it is like an eyelid closing.
I chew his hydrogen like taffy,

magma a little too hot for my taste,
blow orange bubbles that dart

like beach balls on a gust of solar wind.
He smalls and smalls until fiery fragments

stick like peanut butter to the roof of my mouth,
finally dissolve into a livid purple scowl.

How the Cypress Came to Be

The prey you weep over now
was the deer that snuffled bits

of lichens and fresh grasses
from your open palm, nuzzled

into your chest in drizzly
winds, shuffled by your side

on long walks through Chios’
ancient meadows.  Careless

your arrow to fell your friend
drowsing among the leaves:

its blood a thousand garnets,
treasure you’d forsake

to see those brown eyes blink
again.  And so Apollo roots

you where you kneel, in penance
for the slain—ever grieving, evergreen.


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