Flagrant Delicto

Radiance is a substantial gain
in problem-solving ability—
a beam, a gleam, a brilliant luminosity,
a schedule that feels like fractals—
eligible, redundant, fancy,
berry-flavored, and pungent,

though less punitive to the touch,
with a sound like mulch.
William Pratt doesn’t think much
of the luster cast by sunlight
across the tombs of Kensal Green.
He feels radiance is a hindrance,

effulgence a nuisance.
And oughtn’t he to know?
With his pallid halo and a penumbra
that danced away from his heels,
along with his reflection
that glares with his absence in mirrors?

It’s a class act that makes
joining the great majority
into a black-tie affair.
Why cark, love?
Sometimes you get the chicken.
Sometimes you get the feathers.

When dusk turns dark,
the sparkling remediation of warmth
is the blood singing inside of you.
Mal commune mezzo gaudio—
a shared evil is half a joy.
Dumpling, sure as flagrant delicto

is delicious and fragrant,
you are the purgatory of hunger,
the smoldering taste,
lick of flame, salting the radiance

between empty mirrors
and a grave.


Rena  Priest is a Lummi tribal member and a writer, born and raised in a subterranean homesick matriarchy. Her  work  draws  on  history,  scientific  ephemera,  and pop  culture  to  tell  stories  and  seek  truths.  Her  debut book, Patriarchy  Blues,  was  released  on  MoonPath Press and garnered a 2018 American Book Award. Her most recent collection, Sublime Subliminal, will be published by Floating Bridge Press and released at Elliott Bay Book Company on October 21. Her work has also appeared in Cosmonauts Avenue, Sweet Tree Review, Diagram, and elsewhere. As a National Geographic Explorer, her next project will be to write about regional efforts to repatriate an endangered Southern Resident orca from an amusement park in Florida.

Twitter: @rena priest
Photograph by Aleks Dahlberg.

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