What We Wayward Do

Willie Lee Kinard III

All spells begin with water.Rod in hand, flick of it against the stinging sky,Mama nem stir the air to tears.Casting is what they call the girls putting in work'round here & yes, we witches are fishermen,whip glamours in men's overallsso long as fish rise to the surfacemere hours before morning's stilettos.Believe me—at the edge, we make them levitate,each saddling our silence as if any noise unweightedwould loose a daemon slick-scaled & wide-eyedwith no bellies by which to bind it.Where I'm from, folk learn conjure early,the kind of favor you pray over a pole for& what is Greek is still a gospel:Here, Jesus is a sigil with light bread& there is always a Pilate & a piercing before cooking,a struggle so steady, we laugh at our buckets,that is, yes, we flay the fish with care.Cricket-fed & fried light, worked to the bone,this how we kill our familiars:There is nothing, then something.Something, then nothing. It is wristwork.It is sobering. It is holy. We gather.We murmur. We swallow in worship.

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Willie Lee Kinard III (HE/THEY) is a poet, art director, brand designer & musician forged in Newberry, South Carolina. Winnter of Poetry’s 2021 J. Howard & Barbara M. J. Wood Prize, his musings include surrealist portraiture, gospel deep cuts, black folklore & superstition. With work appearing or forthcoming in The Rumpus, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Poetry, & elsewhere, they were a finalist for the 2020 Ruth Lilly & Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship & have received fellowships & support from The Watering Hole & The Pittsburgh Foundation. He is an avid believer in evening thunderstorms & loose leaf tea.

cover of Hayden's Ferry Review Issue 67

Issue 67

Tempe, Arizona

Arizona State University

Managing Editor
Tucker Leighty-Phillips

Poetry Editor
Maritza Estrada

Founded in 1986, Hayden’s Ferry Review is a semi-annual, international literary journal edited by the MFA students at Arizona State University. Work from Hayden’s Ferry Review has been included in the Pushcart Prize Anthology, Best American Poetry, and Best New Poets. HFR has notable pieces in Best American Short Stories, Best American Essays, Best American Mystery Stories, and the Pushcart Prize Anthology.

Hayden’s Ferry Review looks for well-crafted work that takes risks, challenges readers, and engages us emotionally and artistically. A small portion of our publication is solicited from established authors, while the majority of our contributors are chosen from the thousands of manuscripts we receive each year.

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