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Midsummer in the city that cannot hold you

Midsummer in the city that cannot hold you

by Haley Campbell

Learn to walk beneath the tulips' stifling sugar,

learn every prayer for rain.

Learn to decrypt the clouds'

mad moods and beg the sky to break

wide open. Take note—there are at least

a million shades of blue.

When the world warbles in the heat

snaking skyward from the asphalt,

slip seamless between the warping air.

Soon you'll know the birds all sing survival.

As you move through the city

like a heat-shocked ghost, doubting

every destination, soaked through, almost

amphibious, meditate on the muggy haze

until your brain vibrates with the swollen hum

of a beehive's summer swarm.

Make sure your eyes keep every glimmer

of cool and living green;

wrap honeysuckle all around your heart.

The point is not eluding temperature—

eventually the heat will get to you—

and it makes no difference to the birds

whether you thrive or die.

The song will carry on without you,

dense and hot. Let the stabbing sun

thread through your veins, let it temper your blood

and weave between your bones.

Become a vessel full of fire,

more scald than skin

and crack the concrete everywhere you go.


Haley Campbell is a poet and editor who lives in Austin, Texas. She received her BA in English from the University of Mary Washington. Her work has appeared in Hypertrophic Lit and Mojave Heart Review, and she's currently a reader for Pidgeonholes. You can find her online at, or on Twitter at @haley_exe.

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