Men in the Gut

Jason Purcell

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Scrape the inside of sleep the belly wall

tasting like yoghurt cooked broccoli

its emptiness leaving something

on the tongue. Escaping the body

that wants to quit from the inside.

It unlaces you all the tethers sliced

away. When I dream of this body ending

of opening the germ of the pain

I am on the side of the road. My hands

hold out my stomach my second brain

to the men who already want me to die.

This failing organ with a ruby wound

kissing the place it is so easy to be

stabbed or shot. A punch to the gut

I anticipate violence here one cell layer

deep shallow spreading roots

a memory system in my body.

On the side of the road a drive-by for men

homophobic in trucks swallowing spit.

When I was a teenager I let them

disembody me internalizing everything

through the mouth and now my stomach

wants it out. I am interested in self-

diagnosis. When I dream it is of trees

budding from my stomach

that will shade all the wounded men

who masculinity failed

who will lay their Oilers caps on my wrists

say Im sorry and our fingers

will touch without their being afraid.

Jason Purcell, “Men in the Gut” from A Place More Hospitable. Copyright © 2019 by Jason Purcell. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

Source: A Place More Hospitable (Anstruther, 2019)