Fistful of regrets ever poised for
a jolting uppercut.
A heart too raw to consume.
I am resigning from the ring,
rescinding my vows of fidelity
snugly held by my finger.
Groomed for whole life to
the way a smoker
expands his periphery.
by half life
into its most potent parts
and the rest will flee
from the hearth between my hips.
Loosened stiff muscles too tight for commitment.
Experience exfoliated my face.
Stripped reptilian seduction off my cheek bones.
Sheared seven inches of hair
off my head, and
your scepter is severed.
Now, finally, a breathless eternity
panting, arresting in its afterlife;
I am exhausted. I exhale. I cry for a time
before I tricked myself into a vow unuttered,
the way some play with their tongues
linguistic as gymnasts.
I reach for a stability
not found in the perimeter of the ring
where defeat is elastic.
To Know Life, To Fight Unarmed*
To know life is to greet knowing
you won’t unmeet.
To know life is to see your creators
split into demigods, degrading into man and woman.
They can’t be fixed;
they’ll reproduce like a feral dog,
bred with its mother, birthing
its weakest parts because it’s more profitable.
To know life is to fight unarmed,
not disarming through charm and an unharmed life.
Knowing sin is a shot from the three-point line
that goes in, and goes in, and goes in.
Ball arcs and we seize in its tangerine tangent:
fibrillating equator, prime meridian an oscillating bow.
The one shot few can make
90 degrees from the basket (the least and most violent of scatter)
swishes in assent: how is it done?
To know life is to
sleep with stress and it sleeps soundly
while you lie awake
until first light awards your lover
the upper hand to have his way with you
To know life is
to wake up after
war broke out in your house.
All quiet bleeding beneath
coiled whips teasing as epaulets,
not massaging punitive ropes or
letting them slink off on a petty officer.
You know life when you are as
inscrutable as your signature:
fluid, hurried, self-effacing;
You are identified by your indistinct scrawl
respected in its disrepair.
A tropical storm in October
swirls summer sensibilities
onto backhand patio,
which was beginning to bleed.
At nightfall, the Doppler dread
turns on a transformer
into glass, into an inverted bowl,
we hiding under its conducting potential,
hair on end on static anxiety.
Scissors, like an unwavering ex, cut the lights
and missed the signs of changing direction.
The lines of alternating current are
punctuated into perforated switches;
But the night is nostalgic;
Stars are not dulled by sameness,
no monotonous hum of fluorescent tunnels of commuting current.
A time before light pollution,
our thumbs go up like lighters.
We don’t bite the flame’s nail
so antsy to be somewhere else
with a greater power.
we used to stretch our arms and wouldn’t reach.
When we stretch, we still cannot reach
out to when sugar crystals would shimmer in sweetness
Pulsating like a temptation.
Gosh, in our forgetfulness
we are sapped of soundness,
only incandescent filaments
that decorate, not illuminate.
Weighed in preoccupation,
eyelid twitching and straining
to support us, maybe 5’5” in height
but 6’0 at the mouth.
When we rise, knees bent at the right angle,
creaking a door cracking with light,
bracing, swaying, winded.
Cruel tricks addressed in
outfit now threadbare.
The trees in spring are a testament
to what squirrels cannot remember.
We will be planted in the same soil.
Headstones in braille read and reread
by a blind wind
will be forgotten.
Hazy erasures will strain the keenest of eyesight.
Sarah Kersey is a poet, musician, and x-ray tech from New Jersey. Her development as a poet was very gradual, beginning with a poem she wrote at age 12, which was well received by her teacher and classmates. Later, she competed in poetry slams sponsored by her high school. In one of them, she tied for third place. In 2014,“A Vision in Gray Winsome Parchment,” her first published poem, appeared in Columbia Journal online. Click here to visit Sarah’s personal blog.
* “To Know Life, to Fight Unarmed,” was first published at The Metaworker website in March, 2018.