I carried my persona
in a brown paper bag. It held
shreds of lint and one hair
that the comb forgot—My persona
has a pecking order. Its first name
rhymes with self—Always the last in line.
My persona is filled with
yearning. It shipped off on a garbage
of barge, and landed with a din in
the Witness Protection Program.
My persona hid under a shamrock
in DUMBO—My mural penned
by a black-gloved hand. It lay chalk flat
on a red brick building,
mixed with saliva, turpentine,
and cheap wine. My persona is not
the marrying kind. Stoked sleek
at the ready in leopard tights,
shaking up a winter snow toy
on a cold and stormy night.
My persona thrives on buyer’s
remorse and loss. I bet you can’t blush
and cry on command! My persona skipped
the needle on a song when
no one was home. It unhooked my bra
in a photo booth in July, then sat numb,
pink nipple held on a teacup rim.
My persona was never a sound sleeper.
A dog barked in the distance
of my persona’s longing. Naked
pet rock held my persona behind
the curtains where loneliness
dwells. My persona is filled with
bird song. It carries smiles in a jar,
gets so tired of my persona. Decides
to take matters into its own hands,
holding a pillow down firm over
breathing, until one of us goes still.
Cynthia Atkins ’ poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review, American Letters & Commentary, BOMB, Caketrain, Clementine, Del Sol Review, Denver Quarterly, Harpur Palate, Hermeneutic Chaos, The Journal, North American Review, Tampa Review, Valparaiso Review, and Verse Daily, among others. Her second collection, In The Event of Full Disclosure, was recently featured on the Huffington Post and reviewed in [PANK] and the North American Review. Atkins earned her MFA from Columbia University’s School of the Arts and is currently is an assistant professor of English at Virginia Western Community College and lives in Rockbridge County, VA on the Maury River with her family.
Image credit: stacey.d on Flickr
Author’s photo by Alexis Rhone Fancher
Read more from Cleaver Magazine’s Issue #11.