(first published in Poetry Now)
**************The Wart When you wake up in the morning, your nose itches. When you look in the mirror, you see a wart. Everywhere you go people glance quickly and look sick. You try to hide it with your hand, but every time you touch it it grows. So you go to the doctor and he cuts it off. In a week it has grown back, larger. You wear a band-aid over your nose. People look at you like a sewer. Your lover could not stand the band-aid and has left town. The note saying good-bye is written to your wart. No one can remember your name. You are “the man with the wart,” “the wart man,” or simply “the wart.” Pranksters leave fresh lemons on your door. Nothing you try takes it off. The wart covers all your nose. Women scream. Children call you “monster.” You only go out at night. It spreads around your eyes. It has broken up into many scaly lumps. A plastic surgeon cuts away your face, but the roots have reached into your brain. Warts come up along the edges of the plastic. They are filling in your ears. A preacher tells you to pray. You take his hands and are born again to Jesus. The next day his hands sprout warts. He does not return. One morning you are blind. Warts are growing on your eyes. You can no longer hear, so you lie in bed and dream. In your dream you are a handsome knight. A princess kisses you are her lips burst out in warts. You kiss her and all your warts pass onto her body. When you wake up you are well. Only dry husks are scattered in your bed. You are weak but joyful. At noon your lover returns covered with warts. She has come back to embrace you.
(first published in Cottonwood Review)
**************A Man With Boxes In an old box a man is writing your name with a crayon. He will put his old shoes in the box and close the lid. At supper your food will taste of sweat and leather. At night you will be afraid of the dark, and by day you will gasp for air. You will walk in your sleep and wake to find yourself in a strange city. You will remember things someone else forgot, and your thoughts will come like postcards in an unknown tongue. One hot day a man will stop you. His smell will be warm and close. You will melt into his box. Somewhere outside a man is cashing checks in your name. He wears new shoes. Under his arms – old boxes.
(first published in West Branch)
**************Reconstructive Criticism When the Inquisitor comes you will be in bed with your poems. He will summon you by banging pipes in your dreams. His hands will knead your shoulder like clay, and he will speak as a just god. Who is the you of your poems? Why is he drowning in dreams? Why is he listening to stones? He will circumcise your excess with a pen. He will re‑form your point of view, and when he leaves, you will be he.
(first published in Mostly Maine)