Tonight, you are thinking of heroin,
Of the boy who pulled you to his lips
In a blue room and whispered heroin
So close you could feel it on your face like a cloudburst.

He makes you think of furs and Russia,
Midnight sun and Petersburg canals, a sullen gun
Where one bullet’s lodged like something in the craw
Of a drowned boy fished from beneath docks.

His limbs were white with blue veins
Spidered beneath the light shell of his skin
Open to the littlest bark, the tiniest trireme,
His veins were vulnerable as a bruise-black mare

Just as the barn begins to spark. And once
In the night that held its candle closer to see
His needled flesh heaved beneath the sink
Of a city bathroom, aching to vomit up its ore…

You would have dusted off those peacock rings
Below his eyes with your sandpaper tongue,
Lapped his form in camphor-drenched gauze
Then washed him in waves of organ music.

You would have pressed down that black key
By his spine’s base to hear the deepest of tones
A body can moan. Ah, invalid.
We would have made a beautiful funeral.


poetry51510.jpgMonica Ferrell is the author of a novel, The Answer Is Always Yes (The Dial Press/Random House), and a collection of poems, Beasts for the Chase (Sarabande Books), both published in 2008. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow and ‘Discovery’/The Nation prizewinner, her poems have appeared in The New York Review of Books, Paris Review, Tin House, and other anthologies and magazines.

Poet’s Recommendations:

Revolver by Robyn Schiff.

The Ticking Is the Bomb by Nick Flynn.

The Mansion of Happiness by Robin Ekiss.

Homepage photo via “Flickr”:

At Guernica, we’ve spent the last 15 years producing uncompromising journalism. 

More than 80% of our finances come from readers like you. And we’re constantly working to produce a magazine that deserves you—a magazine that is a platform for ideas fostering justice, equality, and civic action.

If you value Guernica’s role in this era of obfuscation, please donate.

Help us stay in the fight by giving here.