Stephen Massimilla, "Plum Summer"




Black horses have a deep blue tint 

to their eyes;

in the plum-dark night


they hang in the depths of sleep;

and like the sheen of an equine haunch,

the fruit’s black skin magnetizes touch, misted


veil of questions broken

by the press of my thumb. 


I would bite

into this sweet, cool planet, red coal

within, right down


to the hard grooved stone

through flesh as dense

as the gallop of blood in the lungs, pulse


of the heart

within the heart, here under fetlock

and throat-latch of the Horsehead


Nebula—celestial, sanguinary,


all thirst and murmur

to savor, rivering the tongue, parting

lips too absorbed to ask,


while consuming the universe,

do I dare?



Stephen Massimilla is a poet, critic, professor, and painter. His co-authored book, Cooking with the Muse, is forthcoming from Tupelo Press. His latest book, The Plague Doctor in His Hull-Shaped Hat, was selected in the Stephen F. Austin State University Press Prize contest. He has received the Bordighera Poetry Prize for Forty Floors from Yesterday; and the Grolier Prize for Later on Aiaia. Massimilla has recent work in AGNI, American Literary Review, Barrow Street, Bellingham Review, Chelsea, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Epoch, The Literary Review, Southern Poetry Review, Tampa Review, and many other journals and anthologies. He teaches literary modernism, among other subjects, at Columbia University and the New School.