"Keep It Behind Your Teeth" and "Atlas"
"KEEP IT BEHIND YOUR TEETH"
swaddle it in heavy blankets,
tuck it in at night like a child.
without your love and care,
the poor dear will starve.
sometimes Fear paints the mind
with colours like crushed, powdered
--reds like the spill of blood,
greens like the harsh bite of lime--
but Fear can’t help it, runs wild
without supervision and an
ever watchful eye.
every hour spent scrubbing away
the mess is an opportunity
Fear takes to splatter lead paint
poisoned from the inside out;
a toxic spill, a slow death
sometimes Fear leads a merry chase,
the wild hunt from hell.
it laughs and laughs at the
whites of the eyes
the gape of a mouth open to scream.
it pushes the body fast, faster, fastest.
lungs stutter and catch, stop;
the heart’s vibrations echo in
an antechamber chest.
at your knee, Fear learns how to spin
lies like the most delicate
of spider-webs, with silk so thin but
it ensnares you each time.
Fear locks the doors so that
there is no escape
--listens at the keyhole while fists
slam against the walls,
shattered bones breaking to
the beat of your terror.
desperation tastes the way
nails on a chalkboard sound and
Fear sets the match for every fire
you have ever died in, fascinated as
smoke chars your prey-easy,
split open heart.
Fear yanks on the steering wheel
until you wreck in the most spectacular
five-car pile-up on the highway
where you am the only casualty
in a war against yourself.
(Burn, baby, burn)
Sadness sits inside your chest,
button eyes and a needle-point smile.
She ropes her fingers around
your quilted heart and
ties it up with knots tight enough
to stop its beat.
Sadness sits inside your chest
and kicks at you with her scissor-feet
until you tear--
a papier-mache body, a
fluttering gauze shroud
shredded into tattered stripes.
Sadness frays your threads
and ruins your spun-silk,
the sheen of luxury fabric
catching light, refracting it,
stripped down to nothing
but what Sadness herself has sewn.
Sadness drapes herself around your neck
as a hangman's noose in
the heft of woven wool.
Sadness pokes her nails into
your sensitive places and
uses them to part your satin-flesh,
drip lemon juice onto your champagne chantilly
a discoloration worthy of tears, of
salt licks on your cheeks, You hold Sadness up on your shoulders,
a brocade veil draping down your back,
and she bows your head
and buckles your knees
and Sadness aches
Oh, how Sadness stays, sweet love,
and makes a mess of your home.
Kendall Hertia is a poet whose main focuses are disability, trauma, and questioning the self. They use the pen name P.H. Seven and have been writing since childhood. They have been published several times in their college’s literary magazine and plan to continue writing poetry with their usual enthusiasm and dedication far into the future.