Poetry: Unfinished Sonnet by Chaun Ballard
Elegies, the poet Dan Bellm argues, are poetry’s first reason. We are proud to publish Chaun Ballard’s powerful “Unfinished Sonnet.” It does all the right things a sonnet should do. The poem packs the mouth with sounds, darkly enjoyed—it gives us character and story compacted into14 short lines, and the last two blank: the loss of words for the loss of meaning. What better rhymes with death than empty, blank space?
for Donnell “Don-Don” Romaine Jury
You strolled through the club that night, not mob deep, just a few
boys who wanted to fine-tune rhythm’s beat beneath pleat
and skirt until your pelvis caked sore. You had a few drinks,
you and the boys, not looking to take something new
home—only yourself, and perhaps a memory or two
for the week. After the club closed its doors and feet-
swelled-liquored-bodies poured hood-romance onto street,
you stumbled onto another parking lot where shadow-hued
earth music spewed out the trunks of cars loud enough to move
concrete and dim the moon’s light between bass drops, between boom
boom boom and doom doom doom, Hennessey confidence, aromatic croons
of sweet, sweet, Swisher Sweets.
Chaun Ballard is an affiliate editor for Alaska Quarterly Review, an affiliate reader for Ruminate Magazine, assistant poetry editor for Terrain.org, a graduate of the MFA Program at the University of Alaska Anchorage, and a doctoral student of poetry. Chaun Ballard’s chapbook, Flight, was the winner of the 2018 Sunken Garden Poetry Prize and is published by Tupelo Press. His poems have appeared in Narrative Magazine, Rattle, The New York Times, Terrain.org, Tupelo Quarterly, and other literary magazines. Chaun is the recipient of a 2019 Alaska Literary Award. His work has received nominations for Best New Poets, Best of the Net, and Pushcart Prizes.