Beehive State

by Phillip Watts Brown


Press your ear to any chapel:
members hymn, trembling in the spirit,

vocal chords and the organ vibrating
the walls. Streetlamps outside too

buzz with light and the steeples
cast long shadows. One points toward

my childhood home. I tightrope along
its blue edge, end up where

I started. Wind stirs backyard aspens
into a swarm, fireworks bloom overhead.

Smoke drifts westward like saints seeking
Zion, a rose in the desert.

This faith is a dark handcart
to pull. The embered valley flickers

with cars. I watch their frenzy
from the back porch, a cold drink

sweating in my hand. The AC
shuts off. Crickets shush the silence.

Stillness lifts a loaded frame from
the boxed hive of my heart

heavy with everything unsaid, questions kept
in hexagon closets. Do I leave

the apiary? Shed the protective suit,
gloves, and veil? Make another life?

Blood thrums through my veins, honeyed
with desire. My prayers have reached

a fever-pitch. How will this end?
I stand on the top porch-step,

arms stretched out like a cross
like in a dream I had:

terrified to move, to even breathe,
my tender body clothed in bees.

PHILLIP WATTS BROWN lives in Logan, Utah. After earning a degree in graphic design at Brigham Young University, he pursued an MFA in poetry at Oregon State University. His work has appeared in Camas, Rust+Moth, and Sweet Tree Review. Also, his poem “Through a Glass Brightly” was a finalist for the 2017 Orison Anthology Award. In his spare time, he manages Poetry Sparks, a social-media source of poetic inspiration.

Photo: “Hive” by Abby Hendrickson


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