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“Notes on the Confessional Style,” “Memorial Day”

Notes On the Confessional Style


when i wrote the poems in which everything
was my fault,
                                   i was given awards.

when i wrote the poems in which nothing
was my fault,
                                   i was given awards.

i never learned the truth:
i was given
                                   several awards.

to understand my whiteness, awards.
to understand my disability,

                                   dialectical materialism.

when i wrote of my whiteness and my disability
i wrote of two clay people

                                   remaking each other

perpetually. when i tried to imagine the clay
people, all i could imagine

                                   were clay foxes.

they moved like scenes in a stop motion
picture, my foxes,

                                   their necks arcing

back in shows of vulnerability i had seen
before, in swans,

                                   their limbs reaching

out and vanishing inside of one another,
a pair of manmade selves,

                                   a plio-pleistocene

impression of red clay struggling before
bursting into a cloud that cast

                                   its tint upon the day.

sometimes the kindest thing you can do
is disappear. instead

                                   my foxes kick themselves

back and forth across the lawn like a soccer
ball that’s begun coming

                                   apart from overuse

and hardly rolls right anymore. they wait
and wait but no one

                                   ever comes on a mission

to forgive them, though whether this means
they are unforgivable or

                                   in need of no forgiving

they never get to know. all they know is it’s just
like a fox to wait

                                   on a missionary, so that’s

just what they do. they also somersault in the dirt
and kick the air

                                   and kiss the earth,

enjoying the ours while they can, shrieking about
until language grows tired

                                   and begins to drift

like a satellite or a starfish the tide carries invisibly
out of reach.


Memorial Day


at the end
of what you believed

to be the end
of the story

you chopped two pounds of carrots

on the plastic cutting board
and scraped them

into the blender

along with six cups cups of water
cups of sugar a lemon voices outside

go to them

than you were

a little brighter
in its chemise of blackthorn and nail

life looked up and down your dusty room
and packed up everything you didn’t need

you couldn’t believe

excarnation you cried charnel

house you said hasty
generalization life replied

we left the glasses inside
your friends say by mistake

you once were a waiter
you carry them in hand

all nine of your friends
unstacked to table

through the screen door

who were you to beg
in your old clove pink

in a life you do things
no one can know
or understand or laugh

and hug you

or forgive you and if they do
there must be something

wrong with them
there must a cloth

hangs from your shoulder
juliana pulls it down

on the table a surrender of rabbits
whitens the monochrome

television set a hero came
to town and they found you

and they killed you
and they missed

the twist is over

you’ve been sent to replace the straw
rotting in the stable

your friends are waiting for you
to serve them meagerness sure

bitterness sure

the trail is long and sweet
potato and cypress vine

and water spinach your rucksack
clinks with baubles you need

but could no longer carry
by hand if you tried

you were a waiter once

the doors are closing
please stand clear of the doors

Benjamin Bartu is a poet & disability studies researcher. He is the author of the chapbook "Myriad Reflector" (2023), finalist for the Poetry Online Chapbook Contest.

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