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 is overwhelming— bees must flock to this place knowing it was the sepal that gave way to the first petal. 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.
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 and giving instead of this hollow carved out by the hands of ghosts— waiting to be acknowledged so that they can find rest. This place did not have to be cursed— 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.
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- 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.