poetry quarterly

10th anniversary


Joseph Ross



If you leave your shoes
on the front porch
when you run

to the city pool
for swimming lessons,
you might end up

walking across the sand
of the desert in
scorched feet,

bare, like the prophets,
who knew what it was
to burn.

If you leave your lover
to run to the market
for bread and pears

you might return
to find your lover
gone and the bed

covered with knives,
hot and gleaming from
a morning in the sun.

If you leave your country
in the wrong hands,
you might return to

see it drowning in blood,
able to spit
but not to speak.


Joseph Ross is the author of Meeting Bone Man, forthcoming from Main Street Rag Press in Spring 2012. Individual poems of his appear in Collective Brightness: LGBTIQ Poets on Faith, Religion & Spirituality, Poetic Voices Without Borders 1 and 2, Tidal Basin Review, Sojourners and Poet Lore, who nominated him for a Pushcart Prize. In 2007, he co-edited Cut Loose the Body: An Anthology of Poems on Torture and Fernando Botero’s Abu Ghraib. He has taught writing at the University of Notre Dame, American University, and currently directs the Writing Center at Carroll High School in DC. His website: www.JosephRoss.net.


Published in Volume 13, Number 1, Winter 2012.

To read more by this author:
Joseph Ross: Evolving City Issue
Joseph Ross: Langston Hughes Tribute Issue