Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The poem below, carving, is an experiment in persona poems. I've been fighting the fact that usually when I try to write a persona poem, I end up being the persona. Now instead of fighting it, I've decided maybe there's a little bit of me in the persona's I choose to write about. The poem below, "Carving" is the first of many examples. It's not about me. But I can see me pretty clearly in it's reflection.

abena koomson

Every year you make the same promise
Every month it hides in chocolate
and at the bottom of sticky pots
Every week another girl that looks like you
gets eliminated from America’s Next Top Model
Every day you breathe
Every hour your tongue turns the clock of your mouth
waiting for a kiss

Every year you feel the winter slap of your cousin’s death
Every month you cut to feel
Every week you cry
Every day someone is snorting a secret
Every hour a New York street bleeds with another question
shaped like a child

Every year you live marks the number of years since she died
Every month you sing
Every week your goddaughter fills her mouth with more words
Every night you quietly rub away your loneliness
Every hour you pray

Every year another brown man
is a split pomegranate of NYPD bullets
Every month the bodies of Ugandan children are replaced by guns
Every weekend you wonder where the money went
Every day you suck at the teat of television
Every hour you pray

Every year someone who’s lost someone loses someone else
Every month you curl into a ball of cramps under a half moon
Every week you wait
Every day a woman you know is bleeding
Every hour you wonder if her fingers taste like yours

Every year your mother’s voice asks about the marriage you don’t have,
the apartment you don’t own
and the truth you haven’t told about your lover
Every month you ask forgiveness
in the form of a thin snap of flesh and sugared blood
Every week you sing the same hymn
Every day you refuse to leave the house without make-up
Every hour a holy word falls at the feet of a dead prayer

and still you breathe
and cry
and sing
Every year you suck
and scream
and carve
and wait

the razor fine lines of your wrists
keep surprising you
the prayers you find there flow red like lace
you canvas their threaded language with your fingers.
Notice the creases darken from wine to black
as if to say
What lives in your cocoon of flesh is still growing
one red silk thread at a time.