Bit By Bloody Bit (David Ades )

Verity La Heightened Talk

DistantBitten once                                             bitten a second time
I averted my face                                   turned my cheek
in time for the stinging slap                a palm’s red imprint
fury unleashed                                       the sting of scorn
the slow burn learn                               of reason as hindrance
reason uncalled for                               unwanted
attempted as always                             attempted
lesson of gasoline                                  finding fire.
So bitten                                                  and bitten
I bit down hard                                      on my tongue
clamping the rise of words                  useless in their uttering
tasted blood                                            in my mouth
tasted blood’s                                         warm intoxication:
neither redemption                               nor absolution
neither guilt                                            nor penance
and this way                                            swallowing
biting my tongue                                    over and over
bit                                                              by bloody bit
the words bitten off                               swallowed
envoys, messengers                               cut down before arrival
the field littered                                      bloodied with little corpses
I bit my tongue off                                  bit by bit
until, tongue-less                                    all that was left
was a scream                                            renting the air
the poisoned silence                               hoarse, bereft, endless.
*David Ades’s most recent poetry collection, Mapping the World, can be purchased from Wakefield Press.