Zak Jones | Vallum Chapbook Award FINALIST


from Tinderbox by Zak Jones, a finalist in the Vallum Chapbook Award contest for 2023

I am a romantic lie walking and
talking semen out my mouth
and into the desert of longing.
I am a flooding of tunnel-dug loneliness
filling only to vacate
and leave homes for bats.
I am a claw into the crags of you, soft and thorough beneath your skin,
hoisting myself up to the plateau of you
and panicking while my legs hang asunder.
I am the tearing of waves compulsively splitting at my sides,
breaking into
and about me while I stare into the horizon of your beginning.
I am a scarf pulled tight over your mouth
protecting the world from the love
and the breath you want to breathe on it.
I am the night-pulled rain washing the superficial joy the daylight
shining on the past
and the now is cool and you are in me.
I am a magnolia waiting to bloom and looking for children to climb my branches,
shaking my flowers loose
and laughing looking at the ground.
I am a cloud burdened with water
eclipsing the short tide of your ocean.
I am the closing door’s shuttering slam
ringing as another promises an open.
I am the horse now running with laughter
racing as the forest burns out behind her.

Zak Jones is a writer from the American South. His story, “So Much More to Say,” won the Writers’ Trust RBC Bronwen Wallace Award in 2023. Jones is a US Army Veteran, a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto and has recently completed his first novel, Fancy Gap. Tinderbox is a cycle of poetry from a full-length MS in progress.