Summer 2020 - Poetry

Geoff Anderson 

Self-Preservation

 

God loves the hungry more than the full.

—Kaveh Akbar

 

I have not harmed my body as much as other bodies

have harmed themselves. Around the Easter table,

Merlot-dark tongues whet tar teeth. Pairs of lungs soak

in ash. The stench of tobacco leaves my hair a filthy

sponge of smoke. There I go, judging. My mother says

I resemble her father, a man who drank his poison

on the daily. Two generations later, sparkling water

keeps people I don’t know from people I will become;

that is, boxes my grandfather out of my mirror. No need

to remind me wine and blood helix. The studies that say

some metabolisms crave the drink say my metabolism

thirsts for bitter. What a description for how I starve

myself in the name of living, while the world indulges.

Lighters lick cigarettes. A fruit fly gulps red wine.

Desire mostly spells destruction. A cork pries open

a fresh rush of foam en route to shore. By shore, I mean

mouth. The fly traps itself in heaven. The cigarette

becomes the filter. Arrogant to think I can escape him,

eyeing my Pellegrino the way a hyena settles for bone,

bottle stretching my face into someone I never met.

 

 


Geoff Anderson curated Columbus, Ohio’s first poetry shows for biracial writers, translation, and immigration. He’s a Callaloo fellow and his chapbook, Humming Dirges, won Paper Nautilus’s Debut Series (2017). He is assistant poetry editor with Flypaper Mag, and he has work on or forthcoming in Yemassee, RHINO, Southern Indiana Review, The Journal, and www.andersongeoff.com.


 

  © Ninth Letter, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.