Christian Gullette

The Last Bees
Bees with hairy eyes 
visit the lavender.
They’re disappearing, 
but workers leave plenty of food behind;
they remember to do that.
Mormons named their honeybee deseret
and their lost, desert empire – 
Vegas, San Bernardino. San Diego.
A convert corridor to promised land. 
We trim the palms 
so the lavender has light,
to make things bearable for the bees.
It’s tough to be someone’s everything,
my husband tells me. 
Some nights, I still his legs from kicking, 
some uninterpretable dream 
about survival.



Bees in the Maraschino Cherry Factory
Red frenzy,
              honey the taste of cough syrup
                                          or a medicine
                            that could save you.
They’re dancing differently – 
                                       after all, it’s a red world now
           sharp as a blade point,
                         which is how the present feels.
Best then to end on ecstasy,
                                        to have stepped way off balance
utopia unprepared 
                   for the rush 
their legs shaped. 

From the Author: “The Last Bees” and “Bees in the Maraschino Cherry Factory” are the first and last poems in my manuscript, Beehive State. “The Last Bees” introduces the book’s aesthetic, lyrical world, its questions and concerns, while the other poem’s closing gesture generates tension between a lack of closure and the ecstatic potential of desire. Beehive State explores intersections of ecology, queerness, grief, and the myth of America as a promised land. It’s a book about wandering in both spiritual and literal deserts, the first in Utah, the Beehive State, and the second in California. In both geographies, speakers wrestle with the contingency of life while searching for intimacy, pleasure, and a sense of place.

Christian Gullette is a National Poetry Series finalist and his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in the American Poetry Review, Kenyon Review, New England Review, Pleiades, Smartish Pace, Guesthouse, Cherry Tree, Hobart and other journals. He serves as the editor-in-chief of The Cortland Review. He is currently a Lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley.