Check Your Soul For Holes

From Autumn Opens a Door, the collection published in fall 2015.

Check Your Soul For Holes

You made me angry for the last time. I
seized you and stuffed you in my purse
I did, and carried you around until I had time and
I pulled you out and drew a great big X
across your face with a thick black marker
and tore you in half. A kind of
exorcism has just taken place right here in my kitchen.
I wonder if you sit in a chair somewhere with a headache and
trouble seeing. I hope so.
You can capture a
person’s soul by capturing a likeness
some people have believed
I think the idea is nonsense
but avoiding jail for murder is all I wanted
and that’s what I got. I can’t answer for what
might happen if you upset me again.
I haven’t got any more photographs
of you.

Newspaper photo, 1968. As a note, figuring out an illustration for this poem was impossible for me. I’d like to keep my exorcism targets a secret. So I picked a photo that has good memories instead; and to prove that no one here deserves an “X”, well, I’m one of the people pictured (I am in the bottom row, third from the right). We are all either 9 or ten years old.


19 thoughts on “Check Your Soul For Holes

  1. I wonder if it works for people in the newspapers, famous, unpleasant people, when you don’t have a personal photograph but their face is easily available… Could be worth a try.

  2. Too many. You need help. A whole army of helpers, snipping and marking and tearing… What a shame there aren’t all that many faces you’d want to replace them with though.

  3. Look at little you! I like the passionate and insistent rhythm in this piece which supports the ferocity of the exorcism. I like the idea too of Xing someone to expel them from your thoughts and give them no more of your energy.

  4. Thank you. I had people in mind when I wrote this, and that was a while ago. And now there are new ones. It’s obviously something that can be used over and over again. As for the picture, I remember the occasion well, and I also remember our surprise when the girl next to me showed up with that hairdo – she had gotten it styled especially for the picture…

  5. Yes. Normally her hair looked more like mine. It did make me remember what a big deal getting a photo like this made was, in 1968, and that it would be in the newspaper. A rare occasion, so I can see why the hairdo, but still. A little over the top. We smile nostalgically…

  6. I hear ya! Sometimes I think of titles so good, no poem I write could possibly live up. Those I just keep to myself, like flowers pressed between the pages of a book…

  7. One time I took a short story writing course at the HS adult night school, and the way they started you off on a story was to come up with 5 or ten titles, pick one, and start writing. Very effective.

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