dear editor, can you revise a dead body

when i feel done with a poem it’s like waking up
after a risky surgery and feeling pleased
to have survived

all the knives but i’m still barely alive and
you’re telling me not to operate
just keep the body open for now

you say
don’t cry about your own dead mother
in so much detail of the trauma
that’s not a poem yet

you say
good poets are like surgeons but
you’re telling me i don’t even have
a body to give to the procedure

you say
don’t write about how the doctor said
there was so much space within the decaying
edges of your mother’s incision that there
was no chance in hell he could suture her up

so start preparing now

i heard you tell me
to let my writing
become a cadaver

so this is just a body poem

you ask
where’s the world in it
but i don’t have all that

i just have my dead mother and
what’s left of my skin

she survived for days
even spoke to me from the hospital bed
with her gut unclenched
mom was open in that way but
my own stomach was turning knots and closed off


Z Bell (they/them & he/him) is Bright and Lovely and does not give all the credit to the sun. Their writing invites a collective witnessing of experiences that hurt so much, they demand growth in spirit and in heart. Their music and hip-hop gives us all permission to believe in alchemy, too. Z is a Black, transMasculine, disabled, queer femmeBoi from New Haven, Connecticut who enjoys eating ginger, strolling through snowy winters, and smoking organic herbal blends through a wooden pipe like a Grandpa.

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