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Harvests

BY IAN BURNETTE

Runner-Up for the 2014 Adroit Prize for Poetry
Judge: Richie Hofmann

 

 

1

We used to play pirates
in an empty field

near my uncle’s house,
the unshy earth

filling our hands
with oil beetles

and the odd penny
spoon—as if she

could resent us
for pulling thorns

from her unreachable
shoulder.

2

Then there was the year
the ocean dried,

an oil man’s angry
turbo diesel scraping

barnacled Dunn St.
into calcium dust,

his slick hair
and the cold metal pen

in my uncle’s hand—
for the lease of the land,

he was promised
yellow gold, a hardy

flower called rapeseed
with canola in its veins.

3

By spring, scintillant bud
rucked our field

like a floodlight, a beam
the color of house clams

or razor flies. Stalks
ate past my uncle’s

hungry waist, sucked
our field jaundice

with open mouths
until three boys from town

took a quiet girl into
the belly of our field

and made her open up.

 

"Ian Burnette’s 'Harvests' is a gorgeous poem of anxiety and violence—a narrative subtly and terrifyingly laid out in simple and exquisite sentences. So much is held in tension, so much is a fingerbreadth away from breaking out of the poem’s controlled couplets and numbered sections. I found it stunning."
Richie Hofmann, 2014 Prize Judge

 

 

Ian Burnette recently graduated from the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, where he studied creative writing. He is the recipient of the Poetry Society’s Foyle Young Poets of the Year award, The Kenyon Review’s Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers, Kent State University’s National Teen Poetry Contest, and Walnut Hill School for the Arts’ Elizabeth Bishop Prize in Verse. His work has appeared in The Kenyon Review, The Blue Pencil Online, and the Foyle Young Poets of the Year anthology. He is an incoming undergraduate at Kenyon College.