Monday, April 14, 2008



at a distance enough to dodge
my windmilling arms and free leg
and steeped my dangling nakedness
in the stagnant pool.
I still remember the tension
on the surface like skin
on a cold kettle of soup.
It crept up my body slow,
penetrating the fleecy strands
of my blond hair, sliding
down my forehead and eyelids,
seeping through the slit
pressed between my lips.
The taste was like the water
had gone rotten, a dead sourness
leaking into my nostrils
and down the back of my throat
until I gagged and sputtered.
And the whole time, his hand
cinched around my thin leg
tight, the involuntary power
of an animal. Like an animal,
all I could do was squirm for air.
I thrust my head toward the surface
but he held me too deep
so I swung my arms back and forth
through the gummy water, reaching
for the invisible bottom beyond
the swirling sediment and shadows
and dull white protrusions
I figured must have been bones.
I would swim myself free
and settle in this swamp,
grow gills or die or whatever.
I didn't feel anything change
even after I went slack
and he yanked me out
and dropped me in the reeds.
If he offered some second-hand
apology or explanation, well,
I couldn't hear it through the slime
blocking up my ear canals,
trickling out like blood.
I rubbed the muck and grit and salt
from my eyes to see the bruise
left right above my foot,
gray and green and violet and dun.
It hurt so bad I couldn't stand.
I couldn't do much more than stare
into the misty horizon
and watch him, facing away,
a squat silhouette scratching its head
like it forgot something.


text on tape said...

two things: your pronoun usage in the last two lines is brilliant, assigning a silhouette (which certainly could be given a s/he) to "it". a total dehumanization fitting and necessary to the speaker's tone throughout. one line, though, that irks me:

It hurt so bad I couldn't stand.

You've put us through this really visceral experience. The reader will appropriately follow you in understanding that it "hurt so bad". the rest of the line works just fine for me.

c.harris.stevens said...

overall, the experience translates to an entrance for the reader to become the subject of the poem. playing with the sympathy for the subject of the poem provides serveral challenges, many of which silken, gluck and carson deal with in crush, first four books, and autobiography of red, respectively. these books manage to remove the subjective victim into active participant and all the discomfort than entails. silken though mutual desire and the desire of the submissive. gluck through a negotiation of experience and memory through myth and symbol. and carson through intellectual investigation and subjective submission. all the poem lacks, conceptually, is a rearangement of experience outside of the experience itself. i know everyone hates this part, but a point by point on some grammatical tweeks and tunes.

free leg/ then steeped... some sort of preposition of time helps move the poem, rather than a conjuction simply connecting pieces without supply more information. then, before after...

Kill I still remember. Just:
tension on the surface.

penetrating is too long a word. something curt for the pace of action and emotion. no fleecy. no blond. no ings.

seeps through the slit
pressed between my lips.
nice couplet. stanza break.

the taste of rotten water.
dead sour in my nostrils
up my throats back
until i sputtered and gagged. (sequence).

on and on, but you get the gist of that aesthetic. i think its what the poem calls for. good work. look forward to what surrounds it.