Sunday Nov 19

KistulentzSteve Steve Kistulentz directs the Saint Leo Master of Arts in Creative Writing Program and serves as an Associate Professor of English. He is the author of the forthcoming novel Panorama, to be published by Little, Brown & Co. in Spring 2018, as well as two collections of poetry, Little Black Daydream (2012), an editor’s choice selection in the University of Akron Press Series in Poetry, and The Luckless Age (2010), selected from over 700 manuscripts as the winner of the Benjamin Saltman Award. His short stories have appeared in many journals, including Narrative Magazine, Quarter After Eight, Crab Orchard Review, and in a special issue of Mississippi Review focused on emerging writers, selected by guest editor Rick Moody. His narrative nonfiction—mostly on the subject of popular culture—has appeared widely in journals.
---------


The Upside of Suffering in this Manner

Let us not forget about the scars, the self-
mortifications that we wear as garland
or shroud. Let us not forget the scars

hidden beneath the clothing, trying to burst
through muslin as if a compound fracture
tells more than one story, saying anything

other than its most profane announcement.
This is my body, blessed, wrecked, broken
for you. Let us not forget the scars of experience,

hard won, the tree rings of betrayal, grief,
and or divorce, any combination of the three.
Let us not forget how these scars, anointed

and salved, sprout the most incredible blooms.



Extravagence

So many parlor games, but that day, our only extravagance
was Spanish wine, its bathwater-warm undertow pulling us making it an afternoon.
Otherwise, a sensible lunch, a tuna salad done rare, tartare of cold pink.
Her confession: the last time she cooked, she was drunk, inattentive,
felt as if the nearly raw fish stared back in accusation. I know this feeling, as
I’ve been baited here myself, an invitation promising easy celebration,
but the real truth is we are here to grieve, for the sicknesses
and bathroom infidelities, every electric truth we’ve ever denied. It’s just lunch,
she argued, told me how her own cooking made her sick, cost her husband
two days of work, how crouched over the toilet, she took the sounds
of his retching as symbol, everything she wasn’t as a wife. It’s just fish, I said,
between absent touches of her hands. But the truth is, by then I wasn’t
listening. I was deciding instead what parts I would save for next time,
some listless night when we’ll shuffle together at the bottom of her front step,
when we won’t count our drinks, when in careless fear, we’ll stay out too late,
avoiding what faces us, the hardest truths, our empty beds.



The Upside of Suffering in this Manner (Reprise)

Let us not forget about the scars, the self-
mortifications we still wear as garland
or shroud. Equally let us not forget the scars
hidden beneath our clothing, trying to burst
through muslin as if a compound fracture
told more than one story, saying anything
other than its most profane announcement.
Let us not forget the stories, how the scars
raised on a diet of beatings and white bread,
how like a fungus they grew when fed
the proper amounts of bargain liquor.

Let us not forget the songs about the scars,
or how those who know nothing of ritual
scarification think they are listening to love
songs, as if the people who commanded us
to wear our love like heaven or taste lips
like sugar weren’t talking about the same kind
of cutting, of torture. That’s why I listen
only to the great hits of yesterday and today,
songs to learn and sing that tell the truest story,
how I have suffered here, and there. Give me
your hand, slide a most wicked finger over

my wounds, the only thing that proves I believe.