A New Poem by Natalie Graham

Read "Underneath there is a Wound"

November 17, 2017  By Natalie J. Graham

Underneath there is a Wound

There is a man who writes poems about letters
or poems that are letters from soldiers,

or who writes letters to the soldiers
who die with blank faces.

There is always another
blank-faced boy to forget.

Underneath this poem,
and listening to the man read his poem,
and forgetting,

Article continues after advertisement

there is a wound
flapped open like a trout’s mouth.

Its tenderness surprises me.


My boy is tender for dead things,
whines for the gone life, lays a leaf over a cricket’s carcass,
talks breath back into things that never were.

Seeing the socket where a fish’s eye had been
at the dinner table,
the hole behind the eye,

Article continues after advertisement

I forget the soldier
who was not
a metaphor for loss,

the life behind the poem,
the wound and blank,

all of it—
I fail to remember.
I refuse to touch

another             mother’s           flickering          body

even to warm mine.

Another blank-faced boy
dying, mouth open, still moving
his wasted body, shuddering
like a huddle of velvet ducklings.


From Natalie Graham’s collection, Begin with a Failed Body.

Natalie J. Graham
Natalie J. Graham
Natalie Graham is a Ph.D, poet and hip hop scholar interested in the intersections of race, gender, class and geography. She is an associate professor at Cal State Fullerton.

More Story
Languages Cannot Be Assimilated or Colonized, for They Contain Multitudes In her memoir of a life lived in and through translation, Translation as Transhumance, Mireille Gansel defines the process...