Sacks of Cells
Poem by Brendan Walsh
Pulling me aside in the corridor
between the living room and kitchen, after
three bottles of shared champagne
and a glass of rum punch, you tell me how
these friends sitting on the couch are just
sacks of cells lumped randomly from stardust,
their bodies nothing but containers
brimming with matter, how when you first
observed open heart surgery, the smell
of burning flesh from the electric saw
chewing through skin and sternum penetrated
the microscopic holes of your surgical
mask, and you learned to mentally separate
bodies from the people that inhabit them. I say
you are mistaken; we are descended from stars.
You shake your head, explain that
stars are lifeless balls of gas, and as you
swallow champagne from a red Solo cup,
looking at the group of incidental
formations laughing in the other room,
your chin’s curve and green-brown eyes, backlit
by the kitchen chandelier, make me think
words never betrayed a body so much;
you are a superb cell-sack, flawless
mound of carbon, most exquisite bundle of stardust.
The 2017 Luminaire Award for Best Poetry
We are pleased to announce this story as a finalist for the 2017 Luminaire Award for Best Poetry, honoring the independent press’ best poems and hybrid works of the year. The winners are selected by an external panel that judges all pieces blind and chooses the full list of 12 finalists from hundreds of entries. Alternating Current does not determine the final outcome for the judging; the external judges’ decisions are final.
Brendan Walsh’s first poetry collection, Make Anything Whole, was published by Five Oaks Press in 2015, and his second collection, Go, was published by Aldrich Press in 2016. He has lived in and fallen in love with South Korea and Laos; he currently lives and teaches in South Florida to sate his palm tree needs. Brendan has been a featured reader at The New American Writing Festival, the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival’s Connecticut Young Poets Day, and the Poetry Institute New Haven. His work has been awarded the Anna Sonder Prize of the Academy of American Poets, the Leslie Leeds Poetry Prize, and a Freedman Prize for poetry in performance. He received his Master of Fine Arts from Southern Connecticut State University. His poems have appeared in Off the Coast, Connecticut Review, Mason’s Road, Anak Sastra, Lines+Stars, Cobalt Review, Wisconsin Review, LONTAR, and numerous other journals. When he is not training for amateur Strongman competitions or writing and reading poems, he is probably seeking the unknowable essence of humanity.
This poem was previously published in Go.