Ars Poetica

Laura Stringfellow


It must be that the spirit speaks
Into the nose, into the mouth,
Or the clouds far off
Filling themselves with rage.

The sky is a bloated darkness,
Its face bruised and torn.
The rain is strict, straight
As a spinster.

I think poetry must be
A storm in the abdomen, somewhere
In the gut, or the line where the navel
Meets the vertebrae of back.

I suppose it must also be shit,
Or the regurgitation of what we,
Always in love, must see.
Look, we desire too much

The sky, the trees, the one
We see from a distance—
So like or unlike ourselves—
The world who gnaws
Like a dog’s grey mouth.
Look, I’m guilty. I crave

The world in my stomach
The way I crave an ice cream.
I seek also the taste
Of vowels in my throat, the sharpness

Of oppositions, spitting
Out the assonance in grief,
Rhythm its own dark spittoon
Pounding in the body fierce.

I suppose that poetry is a mouth
In the mind, licking the lobes clean,
Singing in chants or in tongues
Or in the Blues of Bobby Bland.

It is also the ghost
At the refrigerator, eating his own
Madness in a ham and cheese sandwich,
The only light he ever knew—a 30 watt bulb.

It must be a vision—
The fisherman hacking into himself
With the anchor of the boat. It must be
The blood pouring into
The water, into the bluefish’s mouth.

It must also be the sea, the tow
Pulling us into the mouth
Of a shark, not cruel, but
Full of the bad breath of instinct.

Think of it then—
All the suicides,
And all the crimes committed
In the world. Or that desperate
Hum when the night
Sighs in the back of its throat
Full of shrunken stars like eyes.

Here the world is, we think,
With its greedy hands,
And it won’t even rescue us.
The sky lacks its own mercy,
Having no angels.




Laura Stringfellow writes both verse and prose poetry, holds an MFA in Creative Writing, Poetry, and hails from the muggy strangelands of the Southern US. Recent publications have appeared, or are forthcoming, in various journals including Right Hand Pointing, Déraciné, Neologism Poetry Journal, Clementine Unbound, Black Poppy Review, and Thirteen Myna Birds.