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.
VIRGINIA POEM A
the aroma of honeysuckle
all over Virginia
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.
but we will never
and we damned
sure ain’t flowers.
i ponder us the caterpillar
fat and gorging,
VIRGINIA POEM B
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
instead of this hollow
carved out by the hands
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
or better yet,
to the dravite
of my pupils.
VIRGINIA POEM C
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.
VIRGINIA POEM D
You ever see the ocean lay flat
like it does off the coast of the East-
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,
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.