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GROWING a collection of prose poetry vignettes by keaton st. james


Writing and collage art Š Keaton St. James, all rights reserved.


To everyone who has supported my writing journey so far— This one’s for you. I can’t thank you enough.


milk tooth noun plural: milk teeth

1. we suck summer air into our lungs. empty glass bottles on the porch steps, orange ladybugs curled in the windowsills, strawberry stains on our hands and mouths, our laughter so golden-sweet. love looks like dandelions in bloom or the sweat sticking to our shoulder blades. 2. say deciduous. say bloodstains on our pillowcases and scabbed shins. say waking in the dark to a coin under the tongue. say soft limbs. say tug and strain of growing. say growing. say molting. say this pain will pass.


ghost noun

1. your soul a quiet cello hum swept through long, empty hallways. your soul a dizzy, unkempt breeze. your soul a white daisy unbloomed. your soul so soft and full of shuddering. 2. they found your bones piled in the dark fern bushes and you’ve never been the same since. you were brought home, but a part of you is still there, green leaves plastered to your cold skin, black soil staining your hands. an ache deep in the pit of you for anything besides this great, terrible silence born of feeling unalive. 3. dried blood beneath candy-colored band-aids. your fists like rusted switchblades. the heart inside you silver, wet, wriggling. you have returned. you have returned.


grief noun

1. the pain says, i have come for you, and you say, you are too blinding, i don't want to look. 2. your chest is a wall of fire. the pain says, i own buckets, and i own torches. you pick torches. 3. your soul is a wall of thorns. the pain says, what can i do for you? you say, nothing. this is dream from which i know i will wake. 4. your heart is a wall of stormclouds. the pain says, i will lend you my shoulders and my hands. you say, i don’t have strength in me to touch anyone yet. 5. life shivers, melts, moves on. the pain says, i have come for you, and you look upon it and say, yes, i've kept you waiting too long, let's embrace as equals.


petrichor noun

1. black asphalt, damp bicycle tires, sparkling trees. the whole of the street scene is blurry and softened as though covered in a layer of oil paint. the barefoot laughing no-longer-dry-mouthed kids dance around their backyards, kicking up mud. 2. we dream of moments like this, so soft they live in our memories like down feathers on strong wide wings. sweet-smelling, heatherscented moments. these moments of gentle, dawn-colored rain. 3. can you feel how your withered heart opens up? it’s ready to heal.


dizzy adjective

1. windswept summer sunlight. laughing children who leap down from technicolor carousel horses onto fairground gravel. your jump off the elevated dock, when the still lake is far below and in the rush of falling you feel not like a human but like a piece of the wild, burning sky. 2. close your eyes and catch snowflakes on your tongue while twirling in circles. get drunk on raspberry chambord in your friend’s kitchen at 2am, both of you messy-haired and bare-legged and brimming with laughter. run up birdsong-stained trails to the very top of the mountain, peer over the cliffs into the cupped-palm curve of the valley and marvel breathlessly at how the houses look so small, coins at the bottom of a wishing well, full of warm hands and the fluttering hearts of dreamers. 3. have you let go of the ails that anchor you yet? have you let this marvelous spinning earth pull you into its arms and sweep you off your feet yet?


dream noun

1. in a forest clearing we stand around the bonfire we built ourselves. fairies dressed in spanish moss sing and beat their walnut drums. the stars smile. your sorrows and my sorrows are ashes. 2. i dive into the lake, and lose my spine in the mud. when i scramble onto the bank, shivering, pulling fish hooks out of my feet, swaying from my new lack of bones, i find the angel gabriel on the bank. he offers me a fresh-cut daisy to replace what has been stolen from me. my spine is softer now, but still strong. 3. you reach for the light. it reaches back.


flight noun

1. in the right kind of light, we look like sparrows. in the right kind of dark, our hipbones become hollows where angels rest, spread their wings, teach us the secrets of their bones. 2. what comes before? the fall. we must always risk crashing into the rough land so that we may kiss the clouds. 3. a gentle tangle with what was thought unreachable. the shedding of your red agonies for clear songs. the process of recognizing all the beauty we carry in our blood, stroke by stroke.


pretty boy noun informal

1. flowers in your hair. stardust in your soul. you’re wild like a dream is wild and bright like a dream is bright, raspberry-tender and mint leaf-sweet, gold-dappled, always with laughter hidden under your tongue, always with love rushing through your heart, always ready to run through the rain or paint sunsets or dance barefoot in the fire-petaled gaillardias. when we think awestruck, we mean you. when we think you, we mean liberated. 2. transcendence of the self says keats, so you become a fawn wandering in pine forest fog, white-spotted, damp-eyed, you become the rush of air under a blue jay’s wing as it lifts off into the starry dark, bound for the moon, you become apollo holding the jeweled goblet, his lips made purple by wine and secret kisses, his bones full of poetry and his heart full of song.


pride noun

1. people who don't know will try to tell you that it feels like a fist to the jaw, like a locked door inside a cold house, like a knife to your spine, its blade-teeth wickedly singing apart your skin, your soul. but they don't know the truth of it, and they cannot take that away from you, no matter how hard they try. 2. here’s how it really feels: like blankets and mugs of hot cocoa after running home through the rain, like birdsong in the midst of night, like laughter spilling out of your lips, like forgetting all the sorrows in your bones. and they can never take it from you, no matter how hard they try. 3. oh, how beautiful you are. how incendiary and full of light. promise me you will always be shining like this.


boyhood noun

1. scraped knees, blood beneath the bandages, split lip, split knuckles, split heart, a body meant for songs, shivers, sighs, for fleeing like a ghost afraid of the light any time someone speaks your name. 2. taking off armor. removing dented metal first, then scuffed leather, chainmail and undershirt last. standing in the dim and dusty night with moonlight pooling on your shoulders. the shock of cold air upon raw, pink, sweat-soaked skin. 3. you can be a comet tearing open the sky if you want. never say of course. never let them drain the river of your soul.


Keaton St. James is a tiny poet with a tender heart. He enjoys stargazing, drinking green tea, and looking for angels in the Blue Ridge Mountains. He thinks you’re beautiful.

Growing (Dictionary Poems, Vol. 1)  

A mini-collection of prose poetry vignettes styled to look like dictionary entries. Volume 1 is an exploration of growth and learning how to...

Growing (Dictionary Poems, Vol. 1)  

A mini-collection of prose poetry vignettes styled to look like dictionary entries. Volume 1 is an exploration of growth and learning how to...

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