"Poetry Man"

Lisa Wells

after Phoebe Snow


To recall the cull of this life.

That one must harvest by selective annulment
the body they will wed

                and the body they will hustle
from dress to tongue on the sly   

                                             for days
I lay as a flank in my lover’s maw 

                    swathed in wine while warm 
winds frisked the wisteria. 

It was innocent.


He lashed my wrist to the mast.
He tied my blind because I wanted  

to be battered in the swell 
                           and blossoms purple still
any place he pressed his mouth 
any place 


I asked for it.
By now I know, I begged:
relieve your mouth its bland aperture     


Talk to me some more.



Home’s that place     somewhere     you go each day


In absence of his finger I have conveyed to my teeth
a relentless procession of corn chips, zoned out  

on the bedroom wall. 
Little my tongue does for the hole it circumnavigates. 

It was a clear day, sun jigging figures from the leaves
on the alien green of College Park
                                       I was ocular in his arms 

an enormous pupil, blown open.


                       We knew the hour had come
by the way the light collected


raptured to several heavens
there’s no need to choose. 




If choice is obviated    “Le Paradis n’est pas artificiel”

his letter begins, anxiety of what is
in back of each long note. 


He compares me to a garden   “Why weed what winter will kill?”

Fidelity is perennial, survives the cold     cloaked as a peony.     


He wishes me a grand carouse at the local dive, a dry 
bottom bun for my rubber burger 
and another man’s sex        bashful boy.  




do not touch the stove you will

fuse to its element     slaver over
the burn.        You don’t have to go.   

You’re hiding something sweet
from this swollen thumb 

and from these glossy welts derives
the suspicion that I am truly sick.  


Monstrously wooed by these 
reports of injury, he admits   
                “its invocation of parts. You have a thumb! Eyes!”


Instruments of agency.   Logic divides 
pleasure from having  

                       give it to me  


All Medea’s remonstrations ended on a blade,
downed in the poisoned mug, draped in the tainted gown 

but she never howled 
when love departed  


she muscled out to meet him.

Lisa Wells is a poet and essayist from Portland, Oregon. She’s the author of Yeah. No. Totally. (essays) and a chapbook, BEAST. Recent work can be found in The Believer, Best New Poets, Denver Quarterly, Third Coast, and others. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is currently a Writer-in-Residence at Yale–NUS in Singapore.