Word Made Flesh

I am thinking of unravelling.
Of cigarettes and booze bottles,
a stranger’s slipped condom.
The world knows no image
but the burning of its bodies.
I cannot write without a porn
director threatening to turn
my image into something
unrecognizable. On Mondays,
the school bus boys repeat
my past life: night slut, street
walker. Promiscuity is inevitable.
If you live long enough,
write long enough, everything
the public touches will eventually
become porn. Believe me. I’ve been
writing for years as a complete
nobody. The day an editor started
giving a damn about my
poetry, he had overheard a
neighbor talking about how hard
it is to get his dick up when his
wife is naked. And just like that,
my poem went from anti-domestic
abuse manifesto to instant
masturbation. So many emails,
all of them obsessed with wrapping
their hands around my throat…
All afternoon, my lawyer has been
trying to coax me into the language
of lawsuits. He tells me I am
not my sex work, not this
strip tease novel tearing at
my friendships, my marriage.
Alone, family has attempted to
talk me into alternate careers.
Maybe I could forget my aches
for a while–order some Milton
anthologies, reread Paradise Lost.
Every critic I have ever stripped
naked has talked about the virtues
of not writing. I do not know if they
are any better in academia than
they were in bed, but nothing could
be worse than middle-aged strangers
whispering inaudible things into
my raw, young ear, not because
they are ugly, but because people
break careers, because twenty years
from now, I know I will wake up
in that same mattress with that
same vomit and wonder if this is
the closest anyone gets to redemption.

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