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correspondence with a poet friend, #4

June 22, 2010

Beth —

You’re right: the naked men were performers,
wore skin like shrouds. We couldn’t see them.
Not really. And they didn’t see us, either.
Though we were pressed together (close enough
for their genitals to brush mine),
not every touch means something.
Cocks are zipper pulls; cunts are velcro.
No wonder it’s so easy for sex to undo a person.
Fuss enough with the places we’re held
together and something is bound to slip.
Do you really think everyone contains
bones, muscles and organs? Or isn’t someone
made of wood?

You plunge hands into chests strapped on gurneys
and visit the elderly cornered in dark living
rooms by sour-smelling chairs. Even this is art.
There is an artist somewhere. You are her
audience. She has threaded wire
between their shoulder blades, twisted
hooks into their palms. If you mouth the word
crucifixion, she will tell you she never believed
in Jesus. Myself, I would consider becoming
the installation, but I don’t know what I need
from artist or audience. Do you remember

how brave she was when she gave the crowd
weapons to be used against her? Yesterday was like that
in my bedroom. There were more pins
and needles than I could stand. But you know
something strange? I don’t bleed anymore.
Not the tiniest drop. When the razor slashes
my belly, my skin acts like bark: I memorialize lovers,
bear their initials and their hearts
as long as I live.


Here are the letters that lead up to this one:
Beth to Carolee, June 11
Carolee to Beth, June 12
Beth to Carolee, June 13
Carolee to Beth, June 15
Beth to Carolee, June 16
Carolee to Beth, June 18
Beth to Carolee, June 20

  1. June 22, 2010 11:50 am

    oh my. wonderful. gorgeous. you are on an imagery roll. a kick-ass poetry roll.

  2. June 24, 2010 10:53 am

    Hiya! This might be my favorite one in the series so far. It is rich with images, and you’ve done such a good job of weaving together the exhibits and the rest of life… amazing. My only problem was that you gave me so much I could write back about, it was hard to choose! But I finally did. 🙂


  1. Poetry and Other Bad Habits » Blog Archive » Letter-poem to a friend V
  2. correspondence with a poet friend, #5 « carolee sherwood

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