CJ EVANS Metamorphosis

By the lake I went looking
for myself who was lost.
Voice dispersed, aerated,

he had ceased his crying
and cutting and kissing, all
his ways of signaling. In our

unmoving factories I looked,
amid our Oakland’s rotted
piers, into the light of the internet

we taught to lie. A lot of words
went with him, conspirators.
Some songs too,

replaced with emptier
iterations. He got fat, I heard.
A hermit, perhaps burnt.

I heard he died, drunk, tossed
himself in the river bordering
the poorest borough. Heard

he cleaved his DNA and gave
it away, laughing. He got out
before the border closed.

I hope he’s in a place where
the horizon pins the stormclouds,
where he can let out

all his verbs and animals.
I heard he’s swimming with you
along the bleached reef.

I’d like that. He won’t ever
stop loving you. I heard maybe
he lies under a cedar’s canopy,

away from guns, away from cause
and blood. A ghost, a free man,
a face I wore before I wore this.


CJ Evans is the author of A Penance (New Issues Press), and The Category of Outcast, selected by Terrance Hayes for the Poetry Society of America’s chapbook fellowship. He has received the Amy Lowell Scholarship, and co-edited, with Brenda Shaughnessy, Satellite Convulsions: Poems from Tin House. His work has recently appeared in journals such as Denver Quarterly, Handsome, and Tin House, as part of the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-A-Day project, and elsewhere. By day, he is the editorial director of Two Lines Press, which publishes leading contemporary literature in translation.