Image via Laura Collins Britton,

Image via Laura Collins Britton,

[Click for other poems published on this blog.]


Your emotional quotient is lacking, you say.
(Can’t you see the stale wound,
the old nail breeding
wicked hemoglobin?)  A slightly low
white cell count is no cause for alarm.

How could I be alarmed at eight a.m.,
groggy from drugs you gave me,
my body nearly abandoned, when
the cries from my nightstand found my hand,
your voice my ear?  I had no choice.

You’re no pusher, just a dealer
of unrelenting carrots.  I feel unrepentant
in the face of my fear eroding and tearing apace
all I’ve clenched in me since I received
these gifts, cold, bone-sharp and blue.

Back then, God and the Speaker held my body
ransom for the deal: in return for their protection
I agreed to certain leases, subject to clauses, seizure.
But I skipped the fine print:
There is no protection, no refuge.  I gave notice,

recalled the exit clause (hinged on the landlords’ theft),
posed for my final close-up, and left.
I have squatter’s rights to these bones and vessels,
fight those who would purchase, clear, over-develop,
and learn the riddles of a cat once burned.

I played my part for the benefits: sanctity and deliverance.
The sanctuary burned as he ripped through me,
good girl fell where the towel turned red.
I embrace the unspeakable liberty
of the unredeemed and the newly-dead.

The prize of un-redemption? A rusty nail?
Now, a few drops more of that blood proclaim
a life-sentence, or death-sentence as it were—
all for a small stain, a gaff in contract,
non-binding—as I come unbound.

Alt Text: Monochrome photograph of a rain shower on a brick walkway. Image via Pixabay.

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