Poem of the Week | August 24, 2015

This week we feature a new poem by Shamala Gallagher. Gallagher’s poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Black Warrior Review, Verse Daily, Copper Nickel, VOLT, Waxwing, and elsewhere. She is a Kundiman fellow and the author of a chapbook, I Learned the Language of Barbs and Sparks No One Spoke (dancing girl press). She has worked as a case manager for homeless families in San Francisco and for HIV+ individuals in Austin, and she holds an MFA from the Michener Center for Writers. She now lives in Athens, Georgia, where she is a PhD candidate in English and Creative Writing at the University of Georgia.
Author’s note:

This is a slanted/blurred vision of a summer in my life. There is a weighted dark beneath this poem, at least in my own understanding of it. I hope you can tell. Sometimes I am interested in confession, but it’s not that I think my own experiences carry particular significance. I like confession’s aesthetic thrill: its flicker of the sublime couched in the glittering and intricate grammars of allusiveness.


Summer Eighteen


My town stood alone
on a flat page of land.


My parents went to work.


A day was a big


I tore some grass off
the edge of a yard.


Paced a junk aisle
of empty-bright wrappers.


I liked plastic chews
of sour sugar


and flame-heat-crunch
chemical spice.


My ex called to say
come suck me off.


I liked one drastic taste
to erase another,


leaving back-throat
wild jarring residues.


Later, I’d shit,
feeling half-cleaned


and okay.
Nights, I snapped


bored pictures
of my naked


mass. Pictures of
the mirror.


Sad nude with
black hairs.


In her hands
flashed a fascinating


crisis of light.