Trey (also known as Vernon Keeve III) is a Virginia-born, queer writer. They currently live and teach in Oakland. They hold a MFA from CCA, and a MA in Teaching Literature from Bard College. Trey's full-length collection of poetry, Southern Migrant Mixtape, was published by Nomadic Press in 2018 and is the recipient of the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award. Trey is currently working on his first novel and a collection of horror stories steeped in the Black experience. But know, for them, the writing of poetry never stops.

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the aroma of honeysuckle

all over Virginia
is overwhelming—

bees must flock to this place

knowing it was the sepal

that gave way to the first


us, Virginians, took

this smell as our own—

took it into our colonial-

styled, brick homes
to hide the funk that builds

up when men gather.

we tried,
but we will never

be bees—

and we damned

sure ain’t flowers.

i ponder us the caterpillar

fat and gorging,

and unwilling

to cocoon.


To think there was
a time in Virginia when

summer meant the canopies

of maple, gum, and tulip trees

darkened out the sky,

turned the world into malachite

and nothing man-made
broke the ceiling—

to think the Appalachians

made the people of this garden

imagine kinder gods.

To think this place once felt vast

and giving

instead of this hollow

carved out by the hands

of ghosts—

waiting to be acknowledged

so that they can find

This place did not have to be


but the ocean carried outsiders

who all wanted this place
to be something
other than Eden.

To think before this place was touched

by blind vessels in search of treasures

they had no right to define.

Even if it meant

the erasure
of me,

or better yet,

returned me

to the dravite

of my pupils.


A storm comes to visit this porch

every summer evening.

I watch it creep up from the other side

of the train tracks—

creep in from the other side

of the river where the dense

forests give way to knobby

pines and reeds—

from the southeast where all those mountain-

born rivers meet the Chesapeake Bay—

down from where dolphins swim upstream for fish

and horses jump ship for new shores—

only to become wild and untamed.

It’ll break open the sky giving more

water than a forced baptism,

lasting a moment shy of perfect.

I’ve seen this grief uproot trees,

and my blood is from darkest gray

of its clouds.


You ever see the ocean lay flat
like it does off the coast of the East-

ern Atlantic—

see sands smoother than the cotton

of your parent’s clothes—

meet the water like an invisible seam—

the one your mother rushed to sew in those Easter pants,

before church?

From a boat the land looks so flat
that you could step over the beach and the trees entirely

with one broad gait or the steel of a sword,

why ignore the low-country
for mountains too old to know what man even is—

cities too new to know that they are scars?

Who breaks bread in those brick risen houses?

Who thought those trees too tall to skip?

The ones who grew the body—

time slows down for them—

telling stories in seasons,
and did you know that the salt

helps you taste it all.