Jed Myers

Night Itch 

I scratch, in the black, the inner    

aspect of my right thigh. Other                      

nights chest, back of hand, a shin, 


blame the itch on chafed or dry 

or sweat-salted skin, wrong 

detergent, ghosts of mites, tactile 


white noise amplified by lack 

of light’s distraction. But I know 

my itch rises from the spark-lit  


under-night. I’m giant, other 

lives, thousands, down inside

the big top my integument.


Tinder’s kindled out of sight, 

gives off an irritant, hot flecks 

singe the tent. I scratch. Annoyed 


nails just aggravate. Who are those

camped igniters? They’ve gathered

sticks out of the trampled brush,


tend the embers, and the elders

tell the tales the young ones must

remember. Before hell swallowed


home. Mybody’s swaddled,

soft smooth cotton, no grit no straw

no itinerant’s coarse coat


no vagrant’s needle bed the cops don’t 

search. Inside my flesh, this night 

inside the night, this double dark 


most private public park, fire lights

pairs of eyes, parched lips set prayers

aloft. The soul-smoke licks. I itch.

[“Night Itch” first appeared in Rise Up Review.]


Poem for My Country   

 Not far from my city, I walked under tall trees 

by a river whose name soon escaped me. 


Silty-green eddies, white froth dressing 

the rocks, flat current over what I thought


must be the depths, a riffle dazzled 

the shallows. I lost perspective 


to the strobe of the wind-shaken maples’

foliage fringing the shore. Were they swallows


who sped and veered, who caught the living

dust of the hovering bug constellations?


A few splashes some yards upriver, 

little eruptions of silver, what might be


a fish, I bent for a better look under 

a branch, and saw on the edge up ahead 


a kid spin a flat rock to skip, and it did.

What country is this? A moment in wonder, 


no answer. The water coursed past 

in and out of the bright and the dark, I heard 


the elements’ vigorous frictions, dignified

groans of the cedars and firs, and imagined


the current grinding away at the stones.

What country is this? Perhaps it is known


to the singing boughs spread over the banks,

to the stones, or the invisible fish.


[“Poem for My Country” first appeared in The American Journal of Poetry.]