How to Flinch

“It’s emblematic of our societal discomfort with poetry that so many blurbs for poetry books use the word ‘unflinching.’ Actually, I think poets should flinch. We need to get better at flinching.” ~ Lia Purpura


Yes, I have eaten ants’ eggs. Faintly sweet little clusters whose honey
clicked a little between your teeth. Sometimes, parts of bodies
still clinging fiercely by a thread.

The tech on duty explained about the suction created in the vein
when pulling back against the plunger of the syringe. Let me try
, he said, gently swabbing with alcohol.

Old wives’ remedies for warts: drops of muriatic
acid. Frog piss. A razor blade cutting
clean and across from the base.

Swarms of winged ants— thin waists, bent antennae—
after days of heavy rain. Gleam from basins of water on the porch:
I cried to see the drowned ones sheathed in their gossamer.

Dear Fyodor, how old will I be when old grief passes gradually
into quiet tender joy
? For hives, sometimes I’m tempted to pass
the back of a heated spoon on raised, feverish skin.


In response to Heard at AWP.

6 Replies to “How to Flinch”

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