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,

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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,

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

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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,

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

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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.

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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.

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