September 19, 2006

The Shredded Paper Poem

This is my
long-awaited, overdue
elegy
for the page
that I tore into pieces
and threw into the trash
in a little apartment
in Buffalo, NY
on May 19, 2001
at perhaps 8 pm.

This is also
my apology
to myself,
two years later.
This makes it no better

but I remember
the words on that page;
I remember no other
journal entry
with such
cut-glass
clarity.

This is my confession
to the betrayal
of myself
and my c(o)untry
for the sake
of a man

who tried to use
my love's blue methane fires
to burn my own books;

who tried to use
my own too-eager kisses
to shut my too-loud mouth;

who finally broke
breaking me.

This is my admission
of guilt.
I did it. I
wept and wrote and
apologized for both,
while still doing the former
and apologizing
for that.

I did it. I
tore the sheet out
of the notebook
he gave me
(before he knew
I'd write in it),
shredded it
between my shaking
fingers, in front of his
implacable face,
begged, groveled,
ignored the inner
moaning
as I sprinkled the
pieces
into the can, watching
them mix with

exhausted potato and banana peels,
clots of congealed tomato sauce,
and snot-stiff, tear-stained paper
tissues,
before the lid
swung closed.

Yes! I did it!
I committed

self-abuse,
self-mutilation,
attempted suicide
in the name of
what I stopped writing of.

It was my terrible sacrifice
to love.

And every time
I look
at my books
of poems, my
folders, folios,
my fragile, fading empire,
I think
of that one
page, torn, tossed, trashed,
incinerated
in the name of love, love, love,
love, love, love, love, love
(until the very word
goes limp and meaningless),

on May 19, 2001
in Buffalo, NY
for the man
who broke
breaking me
and made me
THIS.




Summer 2003.

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