Jan 20, 2016


Written by Laura Bylenok

Read by Andrew Shields

I’m a person who knows
what’s going on. See. I’ve already had
to drink everything in the house.
Vodka. Listerine. Lysol
as if it would scrub me out.
Nothing worked. The blender,
the bender, the box knife pressed
against my inner thigh, high on
the artery and I unterrified
flicked it. Let me back up.
I told you I am a man
who knows that a church
hunches in these woods. And I know
how to take my rifle up
and clench its haunch until
it’s mine. Then, children,
you clawed up, femoral, feral,
out of my muscle. Perhaps you know how
difficult it is to sever bone
without the right instrument.
At the meeting I sat in the back.
I chewed my teeth to pills.
And late, when everyone was gone,
I pried the floorboards up. I wanted
to show you what a man looks like inside.
I left pieces of myself under the pews.
First fingernails, then hair.
Then finger joints clipped off
with shears. Kidney spooned
soft into a jar. Black lobe
of lung tucked like a root
into the ground. I left myself
a constellation to be traced.
I wanted to keep myself
safe in this house. To show you
how one time in school
I laid myself down
on a piece of cardboard
for another child to outline me
with steady hands in marker,
and then carefully I stood up
and with my box knife
cut my body out.