This week’s poem by RJ Gibson is sure to give you the shivers.

POEM WITH BODIES IN IT

For JAH

Knocked and flawed as stones or fruit,
______we raise our faces, check our shaves
____________and do what we would do.

Easy to believe we want someone
______to look at us, to choose,
____________then take us in hand— except:

what do we do that’s worth reviewing.
______Best to love the dead, so still and fixed. To love the vegetable,
____________to prep the dirt to make the bed:

spade into soil, then heft and dump.
______There’s an I love you in this:
____________in funerals, gardening, self-regard: there has to be

a tenderness
______in order to tend to anything.
____________Most times it’s easy

to confuse attention with affection, even if you don’t
______have to squint to overlook those fine lines.
____________I used to fall in love on a semi-daily basis:

kissed total strangers
______at parties and in bars until
____________all that stopped being a good idea, even on weekends.

Maybe it’s getting older, not wanting
______to be more interesting
____________to other people than to myself.

Or maybe I grew afraid when I found out
______a former neighbor brought a guy home, choked him
____________to death in the middle of sex. He hid three days.

Three days he kept this dead trick
______in his bedroom,
____________in July.

He finally dragged the body down the street,
______dumped it beneath a bridge.
____________After his arrest, I joked about it,

sang snippets of “Killer Queen.”
______I stopped all that soon as I saw my former neighbor, shackled
____________in an orange jumpsuit, in a courtroom

on the local action news.
______He looked just like he did
____________when he came to borrow something

or share some E or weed.
______That ‘s what made it awful—that lack of change.
____________He lifted up his face,

he met the judge’s eyes.
______He was still handsome.

——

RJ GIBSON was a 2008 Lambda Literary Retreat Fellow in Poetry. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Knockout, BLOOM, and Court Green. His chapbook Scavenge was a co-winner of the 2009 Robin Becker Prize. He lives and works in West Virginia.



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  • Lou Kief

3 Responses to “RJ Gibson, “Poem With Bodies In It””

  1. Dave 29 October 2010 at 1:44 PM #

    I would love this poem even if it had stopped with the fifth or sixth stanza, but it kept making me go “wow” all the way through. Outstanding.


  2. Jameson Fitzpatrick 29 October 2010 at 6:55 PM #

    Thanks for reading, Dave!


  3. […] I began with Deano. Then I moved to his forbearers: Kenneth Koch. Frank O'Hara. John Ashbery. Stretching back, I read The French Surrealists. Rimbaud. Whitman. I punctuated my reading with my own preferences: Dilruba Ahmed, Ross White, Laura Van Proyeen, Matthew Olzmann, Alicia Jo Rabins, Gabrielle Calvocaressi, C. Dale Young, Angela Narciso Torres, Dwayne Betts, Jenny Johnson, Rj Gibson. […]