Three Poems From “Humanly” – Stevie Edwards


after Franz Wright
I can see something a little shaky behind
your left eye. A spooked mule
hauling your mind out of this pleasant
gathering of academics:
One esteemed novelist says, 
Do you have a question
for me? I’m here. I can tell you things.
And at least he’s being honest
about how he sees you as less than
his drunk brain.
I like how your uncertain fingers tap
the wood bar as your credit card barrels
toward maxed out.
Doesn’t each ladylike knuckle love me
more than men?
I don’t think you’re meek. Not
in heels and lipstick. 
You just need a little help
Let’s arch your shoulders
like an angry cat. But not gentle like in yoga.
Hard like the strays that screech in your backyard
tearing blood out of each other.

Can we be dancing now? 
Somebody will join
if we’re pretty. Aren’t we pretty?

For a Daughter Never to be Born

First there is a sky I like and then there is there is the same sky
grayed and without wanting:
I want to give you something better, a castle
in the sky-blue-crayon heavens where the fridges are filled
with chocolate that’s the perfect degree of sweet
and it’s all our bodies need.
I fold my hands under the table and pick at hangnails
until they bleed spidery red shapes on the napkin
while a man-child who wants to hold your head in his hands
talks endlessly of futures
where I am someone who’s happy
to eat shrimp scampi and watch a John Hughes flick
and call it a good life.
I have my grandmother’s elegant hands,
long nail-beds, fingers so thin all rings require resizing:
there is something good in me
that I won’t be giving you. 

Why the World Had to End

An editor asks after revisions, the poems about sex, death, limits.
Nothing will speak to me. All the mouths taped shut—
my bed, not holy or ruined, just there, fulfilling its duty.

I am here, my body pulsing and puffing, taking
normal amounts of space and oxygen 
in living rooms and offices, my hair dyed new red
and dried to a buoyant shine. 

There must be some meaning in staying alive,
but it won’t announce itself
in the pharmacy checkout line,
in coffee sips on the bus ride to work, 
all this waiting. 

              The women came to the courts with garbage in hand, chanting 
              I once had such bright fruits. Juice ran down the jurors’ chins.

I plunged my rot into a snow bath,
Lamictal crushed on a kitchen cutting board,
choosing to be nothing over what was left.
Here’s a revision: I gutted a man with a pool cue
while his pants were down. Don’t ask me how.
You know.

Stevie Edwards’s Humanly bravely and vulnerably confronts the 
complexities of living with mental illness in a voice that is equally feral and 
crafted. Through a gorgeous and gorge-filled landscape, these poems struggle 
with dislocation, past sexual trauma, grief, the chronic looming of psychiatric 
wards, and a constant attempt to redirect patterns of suicidal ideation. 
Humanly is currently available for pre-order from Small Doggies 

About Stevie Edwards

Stevie Edwards is a poet, editor, and educator. View all posts by Stevie Edwards

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