I am reading Mark Strand’s poem
about a man in his bedroom
clipping pieces of his body
away while he lays there and hums
the part of me that goes to workshop, English class
says this must be metaphor
allegory about life eating him up
boss eroding his manhood
every stroke by his wife’s boyfriend
eating away at his pride
but why doesn’t he just proclaim
this and deal with it
does he think if I don’t work
for it I’ll not appreciate his message
I bring this up in class—the girl
next to me is typing on her cell phone
wants to know what allegory is
as she adds emoticons
someone in the back says Kerouac
was a fag and it’s all homo code
as the teacher tries to regain
control I look again at the poem
see the viscera splayed across bright
shards of revelation
Ask your doctor if he is a cop
The worst thing about death must be the first night
— Jose Ramon Jimenez
The dieffenbachia grabbed me: when I jerked
away I fell down the stairs onto the basement’s
jagged rock pile.
He is legally required to tell you if he is a cop.
Trees and plants hate people. That is why
they throw children out on their heads.
Ask your doctor if she is you.
The nurse’s pupils went vertical; I
suspect she gets the pills that fall
on the floor. Ask your doctor
if someone is living in your mind. That’s what
the x-rays are for.
I’m sorry about earlier. I think
I’ve upset you. But ask
your doctor for tips on living
in lucid dreams. CBS will be
running promos any day now.
I can’t help you anymore, because
I’ve got to figure out these skid
marks and this decorative
piece of 3-D chalk art.
Death’s elaborate, unfunny door
Auntie said never touch a body.
Their soul flows out a door
A great vacuum
establishes a portal and you
can get sucked in.
Or something dark
can pull its way out.
Doors work both ways you know.
So I look down on Daddy’s body
as the funeral attendant says
you may touch him, if you like.
But I’m afraid
not of falling in
as that would be bliss indeed.
No, I’m more afraid
of something else
coming through Death’s door.
Michelle Hartman’s latest book is The Lost Journal of My Second Trip to Purgatory, from Old Seventy Creek Press. This poetic look at child abuse and its effects on adult life is the first book of its kind from a recognized publisher. Along with her books Irony and Irreverence and Disenchanted and Disgruntled (Lamar University Press) Lost Journal is available on Amazon. Michelle is also the editor of Red River Review. She holds a BS degree in Political Science, Pre-Law from Texas Wesleyan University and a Paralegal cert. from Tarrant County College.