I like to read poems that hurt like I hurt,
that swell in my throat like sugar, and cut
my tongue like rosehips (red, bitter, and curt),
like black tea carves new landscapes in the mouth.
Poems that don’t fake it, and don’t have to. They
can take it, being chewed up like gristle,
and sometimes you have to put them away
or swallow whole. Standoffish ones, bristle
and glare, part bear, part ice, loping across
a bridge crumbling under their weight, and fate
alone says if the bridge falls or they pass
thru. A brute squad poem, grotesque at the gate,
but gentle as giants, hungry as joys.
I know I can trust these words without choice.
These are the poems picked last in gym, that swim
six inches below the water’s surface.
They slip into my mind like a church hymn,
into my veins like those hypodermics,
with a punch and clench, a spurt and a draw.
They don’t need me to feel sorry for them,
they’re way past that. They’re confident and raw-
boned, monstrosities of difference and numb
to judgment, straddling the lovely worlds
made lovelier with them in it, who don’t fit,
who’ve been broken and reglued, and whose words
are lacquer, the spit and stick, the gold slip
holding things together, brassy and shy.
Oh, just bite me, I snarl, while reading, and cry.