Stevie Edwards

The Terms of Exile

 

I.

I thought I could forgive you for anything

but my pockets fill with stones to throw at

you motherfucker

what gnarl you did with

your softness    I love(d)          once

you washed raw ink so gentle my back: scabbed map of home

your almost-wife’s bathroom, my shirt

pulled off           cool water relief           my breasts

small worlds you didn’t touch              yet

my pockets fill with stones to drown               your softness   washed

my shame years holy    I, the drunk                 I, the blank

night binge fuck groupie wreckage

but I: my stones

(& more than once your gnarl)             but I: the night you washed

(& more than once the girls said no) but I: the wading

deep into silent                      how could you how could youhow could you

(& more than once I closed my eyes)

but I: the                                                                                              I’m sorry

 

II.

The blood of my first born is smeared across the doorway.

Don’t stop here with your tequila dance, your epic cock, your lost
& wandering, your grunt & plow, your scamper off.

 

When I say my first born, I mean myself. Isn’t that what they did
in the hospital, made me birth myself out of myself, baptized the girl

from the inside with saline & morphine, wrapped her in paper clothes,

 

fed her weak pudding & decaf until I said I’d take care of her.

So, you think birth is a thing that takes a man? This one took

imagination. What you did to those women. Your werewolf life

 

I must have sighted at breakfast: a quiet girl’s untouched toast.

 

III.

If you pray before every meal

but not before the small clasps of women’s garments,

what is it you worship?

 

Go to it.

 

 

Problematics of Confessionalism

I loved how brave he was to tell the story about that woman

in the back seat             how he’d held her down decades ago

& learned never to do it again     to never force      a woman

down again         except for the others he tells me aren’t real

not like that first one who was real     & taught him     never

to do it again        & it’s true I was twenty-two & freaked out

after the poetry workshop       we played “never have I ever”

& I had no clothes left because I’d done everything  because

I’d been bad for year   for bad years     & that was good until

I was straddling him on the couch           & didn’t want to be

bad anymore    so I stood up   shaking   & he said    whatever

you want babylove                      & I wanted to put on clothes

so he gave me soccer shorts & a t-shirt              & tucked me

into the couch              & I said I wanted to sleep next to him

& he said whatever you want babylove  & it wasn’t anything  

violent      but the next time it happened         I couldn’t walk

straight in the morning     but I liked it      I’m sure        I was

half  laughing when I told him      how sore I was    at brunch

I ordered a bloody mary & a pulled pork sandwich I couldn’t

keep down        & felt bad he was paying boxed up leftovers

for his roommate           & his roommate asked where I slept

& I said on the couch                   & he said he didn’t see me

on the couch   & I said fine   & he said he knew & it was fine

he wouldn’t tell anyone            & this was being a gentleman

I was sure  until I wasn’t sure it mattered at all what I wanted

when I was pulled from the dining room drunk     & giggling

with undergrad boys            I thought were too young for me

but one of them was cute

 


 

Stevie Edwards is the author of two poetry collections: Humanly (Small Doggies, 2015) and Good Grief (Write Bloody, 2012). Stevie’s chapbook, Sadness Workshop, was released from Button Poetry in January 2018. Stevie has an MFA from Cornell University and is a PhD candidate at University of North Texas. She is the Founding Editor-in-Chief of Muzzle Magazine and Senior Editor in Book Development at YesYes Books.


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