One of my past creative writing teachers always made the distinction between personal poetry and public poetry – the former is usually not very good, but a lot of times it’s something that is necessary in order to get stuff out. I don’t really ever post the personal poetry I write on here, because for the most part it’s not very good. But I think sometimes it is good to put that out there, if not just as a means to work through stuff.
Edges of his reason fragment:
eyes falling up, back, he burrows
between his own lungs, liquid
thrumming ribcage filling cavities, rising
like vomit in his throat
until it bursts behind his teeth –
sobs cracking like eggs on the boardwalk.
Too full to tell, the safety
of kaleidoscope vision rearranging
shards of cattails and sky into the curve
of his mother’s mouth.
My professor is standing behind the microphone
reading a poem about a woman he almost raped,
16 years ago with gravely knees, chest slick with rum –
his body has never looked smaller:
shoulders caving toward knock-kneed stance
each vertebrae bending where it shouldn’t
every time he mouths the words,
“Fuck her. Fuck her now.”
He calls the woman he almost raped Lily,
although I know that’s not her name I think
of crushed flower petals on the bottom of the bathtub,
crushed pills rising to meet the blood-brain barrier,
crushed white girls from small, violent towns in Maine.
He says they were standing around her in a circle, shoes
spitting asphalt to fill the holes in her
arms and memory, he will remember them saying
“Do it. C’mon. Fuck her” because she looks small
and pidgeon-toed and can be held down
between tongue and forefinger –
her mouth is white with teeth or foam.
the poetry i write is not about him and when it is i scrape it from beneath my fingernails with .07 pencil lead and wipe it on the couch’s underbelly.
it grows stale and hardens around the edges. later, i peel off what the vacuum doesn’t catch and swallow it. i write too many poems about swallowing what shouldn’t be.
He looked at my mouth,
said “read me a poem.”
Wanted to watch me nail
together my syllables.
Lived twenty years, lived
nothing worth writing.
My tongue hung down
my throat like a gag.