» Poetry

I Woke Up Eating Donuts in the Rain

Jarrett Moseley


is the note I left for myself
on the introduction page
of a poetry book
three years ago.


I did not wake up eating donuts in the rain
except for once
when I was a kid
and even then I was dreaming.


I’m always dreaming
of an elsewhere
where the reams of grass
I tucked into a wicker basket
last July have not withered
and the grease of fast food
slides off my fingers like sunlight
and a child touches a mirror, feeling
unlike a severed power line.


I was not that child.
When I was nine, I wrote a song
about the black tongue of death
before I even knew what it looked like.


I don’t know what to make of that
or if everything is a river
though I keep having the persistent feeling
that everything is supposed to be a river
even bad things
like loneliness.


Three years ago, I was lonely
and writing sad notes to myself
like screaming into a shower head.


Since then
Mason died
and Savanah moved to New York
and Gracie left New York for L.A.
and Sarah gave birth
and I decided against writing summary poems
but here I am.


When I say I’m always dreaming
that’s not what I mean
but that there’s a place inside me called outwards
where each thing faces away
from the next thing.


The couch back pushed against another couch back
which is facing away from the mirror
which is facing away from the window
which is facing away from the outside lawn
which is facing away from the world’s
violent unbuckling.


You can just say a lot of things
and get away with it
and even without music
or a bicycle wreck set on a loop forever
or waving one’s arms in circles from a distance


but once love gets involved
the whole thing turns red-tinted and jutted.


The last person who touched me naked,
we didn’t even have sex
we didn’t even know each other
we just slept in the same bed
with our feet barely brushing,
which is more intimate than sex
then never spoke again.


I could write an entire symphony
on things more intimate than sex.


I slap the back of a friend,
a boy holds the book at just the right angle,
we watch the car skid out on the road.


The news blurs into the radio,
a stone reverses back through a window,
the ground is seared with footprints.


Remember you are a river—
maybe that’s what the note should have said,
to move inside the banks of my body
through absolute loneliness
to write not about the leaf stuck in my hair
but rather, the wind that put it there.


Three years ago I was not having sex,
no one was sleeping in my bed,
my shoulder was like a stick in the mud,
and I didn’t even dream.


But today,
on the 12th of March,
pollen scattered like yellow DNA
across the glass porch table
that points outwards


into the community courtyard
where a girl mounts her pink tricycle
as her father pushes behind,
into the 70-degree warmth
swarming the dogwood trees
and the cardinals they carry,
into the peace of learning
to love the cliché
of blooming hope,


I open a poetry book and read
the note I had forgotten about.


you don’t want to dream.
Sometimes you don’t want to think
about death
or loneliness
or even sex.


You want to wake up
eating donuts in the rain,
to feel the river rise,
and to float a letter
to yourself
from one world
hoping it finds you
happily in the next.


Jarrett Moseley

Jarrett Moseley is a bisexual poet living in Miami, where he was a James A. Michener fellow in the University of Miami's MFA program. He is the author of the chapbook Gratitude List (forthcoming, Bull City Press, 2024). His poetry has won awards from the Academy of American Poets and the Baltimore Review, earned an honorable mention for the Miami Book Fair’s Emerging Writer Fellowship, and been longlisted for the Poetry Society’s 2022 National Poetry Competition. His poems are featured or forthcoming in PloughsharesPOETRY MagazinePoets.orgBaltimore ReviewDiode Poetry JournalSixth Finch, and elsewhere.