Hey Pulp Poets and general cuties! It’s Essine, back with this month’s Late Night Poetry Club. This month’s theme is Splinters. Splinters are small, painful little bits of wood that get stuck in your feet/fingers/whatever, and they can bug the heck out of you, until you take them out (if they aren’t stuck too deep). In my own life, I’ve had a bunch of splinters– not physical, but small things, hurtful things, that ate away at me. Something that has splintered is also something that has broken into small fragments; in November, smack dab in the middle of Fall, there are plenty of things are that are beginning to faction, change, and break into tiny pieces, at least for me. The theme can represent any of those things, or whatever else you interpret it as. Super incredible staff and readers submitted these awesome poems about what it is to have splinters, or be splintered. I hope you love them as much as I do! – xoxo, Essine
I want to live pure sound
Outside a body, kill my limbs.
Dream again of teeth as rough as stones
That tear out from my palm in darker scars.
I gash your face with my handteeth,
And you laugh loud from your torn mouth.
Hidden thick with you in the hibiscus,
The flowerteeth that choke your neck.
There’s an eclipse caught in my sight.
Black spot with edges where you went.
I dream a pyramid of my teeth-hands,
Stacked taller than my life.
They shiver, rich purple, rough stains.
And summer shouts my arms awake.
Dear Flatline God,
People are breaking,
Sun of their soul down for the count
never to rise again.
The man with locks crying in his mother’s lap
insisting she’s asleep, not dead.
The family in a 2am emergency room,
swimming in silence and shock,
sinking with handfuls of story fragments.
The forty years of marriage ending
with CPR-broken ribs and blood spurting
from her mouth to the walls.
The nurses who will clean it up.
The people who will never say goodbye.
The people who will say it too many times,
the ventilators and 10% chances.
People are shattering.
Orbiting to nowhere but loss
and staring at shrapnel.
The woman dying while she is giving birth,
the husband holding vigil to it all.
What the fuck is that supposed to mean?
What the fuck are you trying to say?
We cannot start your heart again.
My liver swells up from the alcohol in your voice.
I suck it down until I can’t feel anymore. Until the only thing that matters are those cord vibrations, now consuming my blood and turning it into that gag-reflex inducing sweetness
that makes your legs cramp up and your tongue bleed. Your dog likes it though, that oxygenated smell.
she was born not with holes in her chest,
Kyoto, circa 1989
A heavy hit I suffered at Nanzen-ji
you were walking with me, your clammy hand held in mine
sharing my Walkman playing The Cure
you commented on how long the introduction was, and then you frowned.
We were tourists in a foreign land.
Your hand loosened its grip as we made our way past the vibrant maples
orange, yellow, green, all one limb. It was astounding.
There was one tree that was unlike the rest, one that was dying, one that was shriveled
the array of colors were limited to a husky browns and fading burgundies.
Bark peeled back as if to get away from the poison roots
your frown deepened even further.
Your hand pulled itself from within my grasp, and you tore yourself away from the Walkman.
Your tired eyes searched mine for a reason to stay long and hard, but finally drooped wearily,
there was no reason at all.
The same hands that minutes ago had been holding mine grabbed my shoulders
and you planted yourself firmly in the Japanese soil
the soil that was my ruin.
“We were always meant to fall apart.
We were broken from the beginning.
I can’t even lie, I never loved you.”
Those were the only words I heard muttered from your mouth
before you pulled off my engagement ring,
handed me a plane ticket home,
and left me in the middle of a throng of people I didn’t know.
All that time, I only knew you.
words creep into veins,
cutting deeper than splinters,
with a bittersweet longing
lungs gasping for air,
the word love
with her tongue
on the inside
of my mouth
and I swear
for a second
the real thing
Please stop trying to fix me.
Don’t look at me like I’m broken
when I was never whole to begin with.
I was born with a mosaic heart.
Built from the shards of a stained glass window
that only knew how to shine by letting the light in.
Now, the cracks in my chest allow the colors to reflect back out.
This is what you see when you look at me.
Only pieces of what I could have been or what I can still hope to be.
Whenever I am afraid of change, I look at my eyes in the mirror.
They remind me that nothing is permanent
because even their color has changed over the years.
I don’t know if I have perfect 20/20 vision,
but I still see beauty in everything
and that has to count for something.
Don’t be fooled by my iron lungs.
I spent a year neglecting their health by letting them rust.
I don’t know how to chimney sweep the smoke stacks
so I hope you don’t mind the dust.
My fingers have become icicles
waiting for someone to stay long enough to keep them warm.
These hands were meant for holding.
They have never been comfortable forming a fist.
But I’ve gotten used to taking punches in the gut.
The butterflies don’t know how to stop moving.
They make my bones shift like tectonic plates
creating earthquakes in my veins.
I don’t know how to stop the shaking.
How to keep my blood from forming a tsunami
and destroying the walls I’ve tried so hard to keep standing tall.
I’m still learning how to ride the waves.
Still learning how to get back up
no matter how many times I get knocked down.
Trying to remind myself that life is a puzzle, with missing pieces
I’ll have to spend the rest of my life trying to find.
If you asked me what moment I wanted to focus on
I’d probably say the one where I was laying down
on the couch with my head in Sophie’s lap
and the house was full of so many people I knew
and a few I didn’t and I kept glancing over at you
half-listening to Sophie, half-playing that game,
the one that I’m pretty sure everyone plays
I thought, Look over here if you want to hold me
in a room that doesn’t belong to either of us
And you looked over at us so I thought,
and you came over and stood over us
and said something like, What’s up
So I stopped
testing the universe
and walked away
I went upstairs
and sat in Hannah’s room
and waited for someone
else to walk upstairs
It wasn’t you
It was Gabby
and I asked her
if she remembered
Halloween when she
passed out on my laptop
and broke it in half
Bad things happen at parties, like the time Scout got pushed out of the window
and everyone became really sober because she started crying
or the time Ridhdhi vomited upstairs at her sister’s house
and it leaked through the floor and onto a party full of happy dancing drunks
Sometime you have to walk away from parties for the good stuff to happen
Sometimes you have to walk down the block and look up into a stranger’s window
to see them laughing with someone who warms them,
their faces aglow from the moonlight of a shared computer screen
I hope you enjoyed this month’s Late Night Poetry Club, and thanks for every fantastic submission! Our next Late Night Poetry Club for December will be right around the corner, and the theme is “Present” for anyone that would like to send in early submissions. For any poetry or poetry pitches, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com! We love reading your stuff!