J’Sun Howard

In response to the prompt “write a poem about being in a graveyard where you find your name on the headstone.”

it’s just like my father’s funeral,
except the chrysanthemums litter
themselves everywhere mocking me.
if you’re not crying, you didn’t love him,
was the fire on my ears that should’ve burned
her in the pew behind me. praise her god,
i didn’t pursue my pyrotechnic propensity
that still coruscates like mdma in my bloodstream,
like the aries i am. looking at my name,
i know it’s one i’ll never answer to again—
a love i’ll never know who wasn’t loved.
i mean, i don’t think i can or will ever forgive
my father if that’s what a hero is supposed to do.
i sit next to my headstone & wonder in anime
of the level of mastery of fūinjutsu it takes
to seal apart of myself outside of myself
knowing still i won’t be loved. there are more ways
to heal than to have a name that means healing.
like trying to piece these chrysanthemums
back together so they won’t forget themselves
as they pretend to mourn me in their hymnal silence.
a lost pieris lands atop my headstone & i pray
for me when i repeat my auntie to myself,
if you’re not crying, you didn’t love him.

More prompts for you to ponder! Feel free to send any responses to

  • Write a tritina using the words static, soft, and strange.
  • Write a golden shovel of the line “My body is old but the bones don’t creak in fear.”
  • Write a flash fiction piece about what you think a version of the end of the world might be (and check out this piece for inspiration)!
  • Take a line you’d given up on from an old poem and try to use it as the beginning to a flash prose piece.
  • Write a creative nonfiction piece telling the story of one small, specific place. Whether it be a certain tree you pass walking home, your favorite water fountain on campus, or the water stains in the kitchen from your dogs bowl; let us know how this location came to be.

J’Sun Howard is a Chicago-based dancemaker and poet. He is a 2018 Bests New Poets nominee. His poetry appears I Can’t Breathe: A Poetic Anthology of Fresh Air, The Matador Review, WusGood, The Shade Journal, Calamus Journal, Bird’s Thumb, and Propter Nos. He is a 2020 Frontier Poetry Digital Chapbook and Button Poetry Chapbook award finalist. He holds an MFA in dance from the University of Michigan. He can be found on Twitter at @jsoleil47 and on Instagram @jsunhoward.

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