Why the image just now of a bullet entering the mouth? Why call it raw, when it isn’t sticky and pink like a turkey meatball, just the usual: gold, and shiny, and cylindrical? What about this bullet is uncooked? Why does it multiply with you in parka or short skirt, versions of the you that you were, swallowing raw bullets as you walked? The images come without assailant, without gun, just the holes the bullets opened, the holes through which they went. And now at the age in which you ride enclosed in glass like the Pope or President you are spitting up the bullets slow-simmered in your own juices. You are shitting them out, feeling them drop from you in clumps of blood, in the days of bleeding left. But you cannot expel all of them. Some, raw as the day they entered, have expanded their mushroom heads into the flesh, or lodged their hot tip into the taste center of the brain. Will the tongue’s first encounter with pomegranate seeds be forever a lost Eden, that fruit of your girlhood, which, also meaning grenade, was perhaps never innocent? Do your own raw bullets come back to you, my friends? Let us legislate the active voice, instead. Not, “Many bodies have been used as blanks, aluminum cans.” But, “Here are the men who pulled the trigger, look at them.”
Copyright © 2018 by Rosa Alcalá. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 5, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
chucking rocks at the wasps’ nest,
their gathered hum then sudden sting
at the nape of my neck. Oh, how I paid—
still pay—for the recklessness
of boys. Little Bretts. Little Jeffs.
Little knives to my breast.
How lucky they were to never
be held down, to never see
their voices crawl the air like fire!
How desperately I yearned to be them,
to storm the halls in macho gospel:
matching blue jackets, blood-filled
posture and made-you-flinch.
How different would I be,
how much bigger, if I had been
given room enough to be
a country's golden terror?
Copyright © 2020 by Rachel McKibbens. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 23, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.