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Photo by S W

Evidence of Survival

troglodyte smudges, red as rusted
blood, my palm can’t fit: letter-scars, scratched
on bombed cathedral glass: photographs
abandoned with a bitter kiss: object
histories of loss—

numbers etched in lovers’
flesh, indelicate—

aftertaste of salt, blue-staining famished
lips: dripping fingers wrapped around a shattered
wrist: bright blooms bursting
from bleached body’s ribs—what
fresh hell is this—

roll it back—

ghost ads spackle city walls made weak
by bartered fear: mortar crumbles, canonizing
time’s disjoint: another summer’s
here: I see a ragged dandelion clock
become trace flight.


I found a scarred box of hair in your closet: a box, not heartwood, filled
with cut kiss-curls: and I knew, without history’s mirror, that the hair
belonged to me—

once upon a time, you stole my hair

you also took photographs: my image is your calendar: visible, naked: as
I arrived, and as I will leave: speechless, shorn, unframed—

once upon a time, you nailed me there

when you pulled my hair into braids, when you twisted torn roots
around your finger, my umbilical shriveled again—

once upon a time, we were a pair

splinters from the old ash tree at your window lodge in my skin as I

once upon a time, I was afraid
but only once upon a time—

I am no baby: I chop through hanging rags in your closet to rescue my
fine, faded hair: old cloth, old wood, unaltered DNA—

your genes are not my altered ego

later, alone in your cell-like room, you will chop off another faded day.

Jude Marr teaches, and writes poetry, as protest. They are currently a PhD candidate at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and their first chapbook Breakfast for the Birds (Finishing Line), was published in 2017. Other recent credits include Ghost City, Weatherbeaten and Bird’s Thumb. Jude is also poetry editor for r.kv.r.y.

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