Peter Twal


People Who Are Trying to Be Polite

And you give me a living room tattoo in the dark of your portrait
You, a dog biting off my arm Soldier you, dressed in all black sight blurry
waterboarding me and another and another and here, I’ve saved you
the last bite of this grenade
I’m not asking you to survive this hello,
I’m still a breath
closet fire our bones tangled
not unlike the braided clouds of smoke overhead but I am asking you
to live with me Stop it That tattoo won’t fit
on my face (we argue about the most adorable of things) but off with my hair
and in the light of the lantern you burn using the oils dripping off the scissor

edges and don’t take this lightly I mostly live in apartments so I never
have to say hello
to people For our date, I put on a new pair of lungs but you act like you
don’t notice poked holes in the thin tissue before I stuffed them between my ribs curled
my fishing lure eyelashes so would you at least pretend that you notice I offered to share
a cigarette before this got out of hand that I’d even take the end on fire






A first generation Jordanian-American, Peter Twal holds down a day job as an electrical engineer. His poetry has appeared or will soon in Kenyon Review Online, DIAGRAM, cream city review, The Journal, Devil’s Lake, RHINO, Booth, Yemassee, New Delta Review, Forklift, Ohio, and elsewhere. A recipient of the Samuel and Mary Anne Hazo Poetry Award, Peter earned his MFA from the University of Notre Dame.