Self Portrait at Twenty-Three

 
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Dripping sheer chandelier tears;
falling light dies like diamonds,
like your daughter spelling watermelon
with its seeds.
The fall from grace is absolutely
silent — a pyramid in the sunset
or you appearing in a sundress;
your backbone like a saxophone
going down the scales of brass tacks,
through the cashmere fear
and the nebulous stress,
to the pastel pastures
beyond.
— John P. Maurer

Self Portrait at Twenty-Three

At twenty-three, I am alive because I’d like to be.

I am fighting for it — placing calla lilies

on the casket of my body then digging myself

up through the pale green sleet of grave.

At twenty-three, I’m still rocking myself to sleep

to the wailing of the storm behind me.

I’m thinking of today or tomorrow if it saves me.

At twenty-three I am smiling brass-tack teeth.

I am coming at you with the knife concealed.

I’m swallowing seeds interweaved with arsenic

so the pale green brim of weeds grown leave

the sickly sour pain of life inside me.

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