Precious Jones





When I say I haven't written a poem

in two months what I mean is


I can't sleep thinking about my friend's broken

nose in need of surgery—her husband's mistress

showed up at the job unannounced—there's no

metaphor for violence when it's your face held up,

bloody, to the light. I won't title this for two weeks,

nameless, unlike my cousin's baby, Maria for three

months, aborted three days ago. I read more issues of

Vanity Fair than ever before sitting in the waiting room,

a young Asian man's arms around his lover, crying.


No woman does this for fun, like writing a poem,

an invasive procedure, all of you exposed and

expelled; I can't write recuperating from latex

gloves that irritate me more than a split infinitive.

When I say I'm tired of writing, means I'm ready

for real-time love that ain't bogged down in tropes

'cause I finally found a woman who says what she

means. When I say I've put poetry on the back

burner, I've buried an uncle who meant more to me

than a three-minute slam poem mocking the

republican mafia; I'd like to unearth memories

of him without rhyme & wit on the tip of my tongue.


Ten months into the year, every poem's a morgue

preoccupied with death: the coming of cancer,

lumpectomies, chemo scheduled in between open

mikes. I've seen women lose breasts as swiftly as

the elderly lose memory, seen cancer in remission

return like a boogey man to finish the job; suddenly

a poem making love to the sweet and supple curves

of a woman ends with her body embalmed in an elegy.


When I say I'm tired of writing, I mean I'd like

to be alone, though we're never alone, 'cause the dead

are as entitled as the living to sunsets from a front

porch in South Carolina, where Nanna's first love

was lynched with a poem in his shirt pocket,

the strangled verse of the departed buried in the

dense cotton air of Orangeburg whose history I can't

unwrite; an heirloom undesirable as a fetus, an

aborted memory caught between Nanna's grief

and the dead-weight of my pen.


No metaphor for violence when it's your face, bloody,

your breasts, when it's your lover held up, bloody,

to the light, your words held up, bloody, and a poem or two





(Originally posted January 4, 2009)


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