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Poetry

In Which the Author,
For the Forty-Seventh Time,
Forswears the Love
of Straight White Men

Corrina Bain

It has happened again. I knew you were not bred for sympathy
but how you rested your hand on my thigh
like the perfect sculpture of a hand. And when you said
that you don’t have politics, I made no move to go
though my woman’s ribs tried to twist out of my sternum
I knew what you meant, the room like a huge shotgun
echoing with its own report

in the crinkling trashbag of my skin, I knew
you were auditioning me. The antechamber of your eyes,
cold foyer, waiting to see how much dirt I would track in.
I put my hand on yours, the damp palm like the wing of a new bird
turned my beaky face towards yours, gaping. I kissed you like
you were going to vomit something nutritive into my mouth.
You kissed me like it was part of an exalted tradition

destruction, destruction and natural order. I know
you think of this as the absence of politics, as though
your life could have been your life if you were not here
as though you can live in the world without needing it
the thin sour milk dripped into the alchemist’s lab of your mouth

you say you do not like to talk about it, and I see electrodes
and genitals, bags of grain put up to rot while children starved to twigs
lay down to die against the warehouse wall.
Piles of stones on top of crushed women, and razors, and gunpowder
and black tar heroin, and crack babies and houses made of palm leaves
where scorpions swarm the floor and abscessed teeth and riot clubs.
You say you have no politics, and I understand. I was born here,
with you, the first world with barely a crack in its thin, bone-colored shell

but it happens, the down is stripped from us and we eat
and are eaten. It is life, which is politics. When you say
you are not political, you also mean you think that I am crazy
that I have chosen this, planted the landmines in the soft fields of my own skull
you think this fight is not my fight, but I cannot help it
the world does not stop being my world

but you do not stop either. I’m a traitor to something,
though exactly what is hard to say. My politics,
your thumb hooked into the soft of my jaw
until my eyes roll back, until you sound me
like the thin, cracked bell that I am

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