Poetry | Issue 24: Undone

i am shitting blood.                are you allowed to say that in a poem?                               will the great ghost of langston hughes run me through                                             with a broadsword? will my mom see this                                                           and say “honey, why?” every single day i feel like my soul is prolapsing.                i’m out of metaphors, mostly. i’m tired of them,                             their casual nothingness like a wormhole. i wouldn’t know                                          a simile if it jumped me                                                         outside my apartment. i grant myself a pity party. i invite all my past hurts,              my most recent embarrassments, the voice that was surely murmuring                           in the back of an old boyfriend’s head. it was there, i know,                                        mouldering up the place, putting its dirty fucking sneakers                                                      on everything, picking its teeth with my failures. i wake up to disquiet myself. i put coins on my eyes. i demand my own head. once, i was eight and having a panic attack. it was violent and sudden.              normally i would say it was like a thunderstorm in may,                                  ripping up the crocuses with its howls. this was not                                                 like that because it was just pain. just my own homegrown tragedy,                                                              untranslatable to even myself. in the now, my mom asks how i am doing.              i say: i think my heart is full of bile, i think i would benefit from leeches,              something capable of sucking out the sludge. my mind feels like a sewer grate in hell                         or maybe just boston. i feel jealous of every filmy-eyed hare                                   hare in the park. o to be carried                                                        in a dog’s mouth to whatever peace                                                                    is possible after running                                                                                                  wild & free. i am used to coming home to pain. i know to grab the fob under the flowerpot,               to knock my shoulder into the doorway just so. i take off my shoes                            and pad around in my sloughing socks. i say “hi honey,                                         i missed you.                                                        like, so bad.”'

Levi Cain is a gay Black writer from Boston, MA. They are a 2022 Mass Cultural Council fellow, a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, and a former Sundress Academy of the Arts fellow. Their work can be found in Shenandoah Literary, beestung, The Slowdown, and elsewhere. Their first chapbook, dogteeth., was published by Ursus Americanus Press in 2020. This piece appears in SAND 24.