three poems

“you keep using that word…”: excerpts from her freshman essays

 … then Juliet, in abject sadness finding Romeo still and warm—the poison just past his lips—plunges his dagger into her heart and fornicates on his body…

…when Odysseus was finally washed ashore, only Argus could pierce Athena’s veil. after twenty years, the former puppy who waited to hunt, wags his crusted tail, coughs a ruddy bark, and fornicates, his muzzle lowering into the damp earth. 

 … as the novel progressed, I questioned whether Holden could hold his fantasies—keep them bourgeoning bright—or if reality would cause them to slowly, sadly, fornicate. 

…while my parents didn’t have the same excuse, it was sobering to see how Frost’s “Home Burial” accurately captures the collapse of communication between a wife and husband after
the tragic fornication of their child. 

 

when asked why being Antiracist is so hard for some people

everybody poops. all our knees bend at a base altar,
genuflecting while straining, or blessed by a simple
slipping out. finding the roll tucked over, under, or
savagely balanced, we all fold, or crumple, or wrap
to cover the appropriate hand. and after each cheek
spreading wipe, we all examine the paper like
the Sunday morning comics. drawn to the colors—
brown, yellow, red in a crisis—, we divine our health
and how much more remains. each spin from the roll
an act of anal geometry, calculating the cotton needed
to completely clean the surface area. everybody poops,
wipes, peers, repeats. world without end. an unconscious
process until disrupted, discussed in polite company, or
when some fucking degenerate has made it a proud display:
smears their feces on a public wall, defecates in a school
hallway, throws shit like fire bombs in the basement
of a church—actions easily condemned as being unlike
your own. but not really. not completely. everybody poops,
but some believe they are different, that theirs just don’t stink.

 

an open letter to the neo nazi riding through rush hour traffic

after the reckless crossing of white lines,
the loud blinkerless snaking of two wheels
over a pitch-black back, I noticed
the iron cross affixed to your muffler—
red and inviting. but as you weaved
between mirrors and side-panels in spotless
midnight leather—a cut bereft
of patches, rocker, or club logo—
I saw the totenkoph and proud
white fist, the blut und ehre and
“1488,” the lightning
of schutzstafell slashing among
the assorted runes you chose to adorn
an ironically unspiked helmet that offered
limited protection from
the road rash, subdermal hematomas,
and severed arteries that could
result from a simple shifting of my
steering wheel, a sudden breaking
before you, or an accidental
acceleration compelled by a sneeze,
signaling the sickness you find
inherent in my lesser race.

Matthew E. Henry (MEH) is the author of the Colored page, and the chapbooks Teaching While Black and Dust & Ashes. MEH’s poetry and prose appears or is forthcoming in Barren Magazine, Fahmidan Journal, The Florida Review, Massachusetts Review, New York Quarterly, Ploughshares, Porcupine Literary, Shenandoah, and Zone 3. MEH’s an educator who received his MFA yet continued to spend money he didn’t have completing an MA in theology and a PhD in education. You can find him at www.MEHPoeting.com writing about education, race, religion, and burning oppressive systems to the ground.

 

Photography by: Jilbert Ebrahimi