2022 Porch Prize Winner in Poetry

What limpid choir, what skinless flock twisted its mouth & spoke
when I was going to plunge the edge of the axe into the back of that man who’d called me nigger
days before? His careless body arrived at my home unasked for
after 1 AM, became one with the woods,
a country blues hammered from the swollen gorge of a speckled thrush.

Whose one voice boomed & rang in my
Whose tenor did I search for & find nowhere
when I chose to let that menace live?
I want now to breathe out thanks for saving us both by stilling my penny-brown hands
when I wanted blood for the slur, blood for the trespass, blood for the jagged white trail
he’d keyed into the left side of my cherry sedan. Your grace,
that dash of diamond lightning that left me unfulfilled,
gave me every tomorrow I’ve known since; inside each one, a shard of that night’s mercy, a regret, a
I’ve never been able to say time or any other divine beast would seal.



Christian J. Collier is a Black, Southern writer, arts organizer, and teaching artist who resides in Chattanooga, TN. He is the author of the chapbook The Gleaming of the Blade from Bull City Press. His works have appeared in December, North American Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Michigan Quarterly Review, and elsewhere.