Jo Angela Edwins

Guilty Pleasure

The smell of cut grass
is the aroma of living things
exuding volatile compounds
meant to help them heal
after attack. Call it
a distress signal, call it
the blood of the earth.
Then ask yourself why
you love the scent so much.
Admit to yourself that,
even knowing what you know,
you always will.


Heart Failure

is a phrase of the brain,
that organ jealous
of what cannot be understood.

Do not mistake me:
there is nothing beautiful
in strangle and swell,
in lungs heavy as moneybags.

I am saying look past muscle.
I am saying absorb
what the deep heart never forgets,

that this body is a machine
destined one day to break
beyond repair. Not so
the true heart. Listen, after the body falls,

how the very air that surrounds you,
grieved lover, still beats beats beats.


Jo Angela Edwins lives in Florence, SC, where she teaches at Francis Marion University and serves as the poet laureate of the Pee Dee region of South Carolina. She is the author of Play (2016, FLP) and A Dangerous Heaven (2023, Gnashing Teeth). Her poems have appeared in over 100 journals, including recently in The Hollins Critic, LEON Literary Review, Delta Poetry Review, and Shō Poetry Journal.