Those letters

By: Robin Long

cling to the submitted words, disfigured,
like the leather face of plague
with spices shoved into a protruding beak

herbs, to protect and stave off stench
it never felt like my disease, before

only a dressing of another wound.

Those lines

chip away—
a gnarled, indifferent cane—probing, poking, knocking
at the fragile bones
of my already-porous confidence
scattering in powdered crumbles across a crimson carpet
(yes, Dickinson, not an “instant’s act” at all)

and somewhere in the crevice of miasma
between the seam of sweated sheet, sinews of stigma
papercut flesh and angular blisters
grows the sincerest wonder why anyone would ever


to be a writer
to be a poet
to cloak an abscess-riddled chest
bearing the starkest drops of your red
with a vest knit together of form-letter

in buckled phrases
that stare back as glass eyeholes
with the conviction reserved for the dead, or dying

a film laced
over open lenses,
or plasters, pretenses
desperate to live

Categories: Poetry

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