Dog Days
Cai Rodrigues-Sherley

with reference to Walt Whitman

I celebrate your missing tooth
And what I did to you to break it off
And what you’d do
To have me break it off again

I celebrate my reign of terror
Of backyard kick dust
Split earth bullpen
Starting line
First second third base
Back fence
Homerun molars under my feet

I celebrate the wartimes
Buck tooth vs. nappy head
Ashen knuckle vs. virgin chin
Porch vs. screen door

High noon vs. half-light
In the dog days of July
When the streetlights seem like lemonade
Your whole mouth available to me
If I want it but

For every baby tooth I cradle
Out of your warm jaw
There is a new souvenir
To show a looking brown eyed girl
Who will never look at me
As good
As she looks at you

Cai Rodrigues-Sherley (he/they) is a Black queer poet, teaching artist, and lover of 1970s youth poetry. He cares about trans childhoods, queer bodies, mortality, heritage, and love. He is a Sagittarius Sun, Gemini Rising, and Cancer Moon, which means nothing and absolutely everything. He was the 2019 recipient of the Smith College Emily Babcock Poetry Prize and is a 2020 Pushcart Prize Nominee. Their work can be found in Cosmonauts Avenue and on the Brooklyn Poets website. They currently live in Queens with their partner and are an MFA candidate at New York University in their Creative Writing Program.

You can find him on Twitter @caifieri and on Instagram @crsed_poet.


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