Comma

Jake Skeets

The comma is a heart murmur, tremor in hamstring. He is an almost; someonecalling in time about the man staggering out of American Bar into traffic—mouths gasping into headlights.He is headlights; two boys quickly push off each other. Commas dangling likebelt buckles from their ankled jeans as they run out to the brushes.More than pause—comma as toddler asleep on crisp sheets, body fetaled in big snowbeneath I-40. Someone should call in time before the comma becomes a period,                                                                                                        his legs curled in against his body.

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Jake Skeets is Black Streak Wood, born for Water’s Edge. He is Diné from Vanderwagen, New Mexico. He is the author of Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers, a National Poetry Series-winning collection of poems. He holds an MFA in poetry from the Institute of American Indian Arts. Skeets is a winner of the 2018 Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Contest and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Skeets edits an online publication called Cloudthroat and organizes a poetry salon and reading series called Pollentongue, based in the Southwest. He is a member of Saad Bee Hózhǫ́: A Diné Writers’ Collective and currently teaches at Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona.

Selected by Kathy Fagan as a winner of the 2018 National Poetry Series, Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers is a debut collection of poems by a dazzling geologist of queer eros.

"Revelatory . . . By turns elegiac and erotic, the collection is also lush with language whose music evokes the landscape. This is one of the most accomplished and emotionally engaging debuts I have read, one that shows a man 'unlearns how to hold a fist' by holding another man's hand."
New York Times Book Review

“Jake Skeets writes with such sparse yet full beauty, you sometimes don’t know where the source of the power of these poems comes from. It is in the power of his language, in the craft, of course. It is in how the brutal experience of pain and loss can become a thing of beauty, which is where grace lives, which is where the best art comes from. There is so much bottle-dark beauty here. Skeets is a new, essential voice in poetry, in literature.”
―Tommy Orange

"Illuminating and hauntingly incisive . . . [Skeets's collection] deserves to be seen as the debut of a brilliant and transcendent poet, whose work conveys a gorgeous sense of self and of storytelling ability―qualities of the best literature in any tradition."
New Republic

“One of my favorite new poetry books is Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers by Jake Skeets . . . His poems bring us an intimate portrait of Diné masculinity.”
―Rigoberto Gonzalez, Los Angeles Times

"Incredibly beautiful . . . Skeets's simple lines are highly impactful as they explore the complexities of love, desire and drunkenness and dirt and death."
Electric Literature

"Skeets's poems capture furtive glances, queer lust, and the threads that link these various images. The book is not so much a reflection on queerness as an enactment of desire in iterative, emergent bursts."
Poetry Foundation

"Scintillating . . . Skeets's darkly resonant debut book of poetry indulges readers in the dangerous eroticism experienced by its Diné speaker, for whom desire and violence intermingle at every turn."
Booklist (starred review)

"In the unforgiving mess of life, Skeets shows us beauty."
AZ Daily Sun

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