philosophy professor (rewrite)

when he talks to the life insurance agent on the phone,
she questions his propensity for risk:
do you smoke cigarettes? how many drinks
per week? how often do you exercise?

the chalk coated fingers of his left hand start
to finger the toothbrush that lives in the pocket
of his suit jacket.
do you regularly engage in activities like surfing,
downhill skiing, skydiving?
the dark tweed tugged across his shoulders
hides the dampness beneath his arms,
he twists his body as if trying to turn
off a leaky faucet.
would you consider yourself to be a risk taker?
he tugs the neck of his sweater and pulls
at his overgrown eyebrows.

the next day in lecture he tells his students
about his call with the insurance agent.
he dubs himself risk averse, cautious;
he leaves out the unstoppable leaking,
the spasms he feels in his thighs
when he repeats the words sky diving aloud.

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her body as novel

  1. find her by reference number. or author’s last name. or just run your fingers down each shelf until a cover, color, texture feels familiar. do not open her yet, save the excitement for later. you are the “best for last” type. check her out.
  2. take her to your favorite cafe. lay her across your lap, spread her open – the sound paper touching itself like a note left on your nightstand. don’t talk back. don’t ruin it.
  3. read her parentheticals. search for words you’d find beneath your pillow or on a bottle of red wine. ignore the misplaced commas, smudged ink from hands wet with coffee or sweat.
  4. crease her corners. gently at first, hesitantly – you are scared to bend her in ways you cannot iron out. then, until she is thin to tearing. leave her folded to mark your precious parts. you have many favorites. explain: this is what it feels like to be well loved.
  5. crack her spine. split her down the center, seams unweaving, glue melting from forgotten umbrella. you shove her under you to keep her safe that way. when that fails, leave her beneath the desk lamp to dry. watch her warp with rain and heat.
  6. she is overdue. try to find someone who will take her off your hands: full of lines deeper than your palms, pages wavy with wet, underlined words like “full-bodied” and “unbound.”

(Day 17): Rewrite a fairy tale

Quick preface: A while ago I mentioned that I was going to be a fiction class, instead of in a poetry class this semester. Well, I quickly realized poetry is where it’s at, and I had to do whatever amount of schedule rearranging necessary in order to get into a poetry workshop. So I’m in a poetry workshop. This was written today (the day before it is due…oops) for my poetry class. This week’s prompt was to, in some way, rewrite or add onto a fairy tale. I chose to do a “realistic” rewrite of sleeping beauty. Sorry, it’s a little gross.

Only sleep for the beautiful

two weeks asleep and the skin
has begun to part on leg-backs like
little toothless mouths leaking
onto satin sheets.

three months asleep and now made of mouths:
gummy oozing things that suck the sheets
close, as if for warmth.

six months asleep and thigh muscles begin
to dissolve like sugar, hot and sticky
mattress stains, shades of scarlet.

two years ‘neath gossamer garments,
dress draped barren over bones-
the heart only has to forget once or twice.
body dark like an oil spill.

Almost Rape

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.

“Abcedarius” Poem

All together six
boys sauntered like stray
cats across the foyer. Arms
dark with sun pitted skin,
ears broad and flat against the wind.

Four of the boys were more like men, teeth
guarded carefully by bursting lips, split with
heat as if steam built pressure to rupture.

Immaturity built into skinny shoulders of the other two,
jumbled bodies still working out the
kinks. They did not believe in lying

still, muscle defined by lack of body fat –
nothing clung to their chests.
open, their faces hung like drying dish towels
pulled tight by thin line.