A flagellant, as I whip, I whisper father, father,
ridging my body with your absence.
The candles gutter, but even in the growing shadows,
I search for signs. Why offer blood
to a phantom, each stroke an inquiry?
What would it mean if you answered?
What would pour into me, dark heart to dark heart,
the great nave empty, its images defaced?
Only this—the sting of your barbs long after
their instrument has been laid away.
as soon as Mr. Cogito
leaves for a walk in the morning
he encounters—an abyss
it is an abyss
to Mr. Cogito’s measure
(“The Abyss of Mr. Cogito,” Zbigniew Herbert)
Yesterday was 9/11,
a glut of impact and humans
falling through space.
And before that
was a bloodied boy
ghosted with plaster dust
that followed a Black man
in his own car.
People suffer daily beyond measure—
cancers and miscarriages,
poverty and displacement.
My wound is so small
it cannot be seen
amidst the turmoil,
yet still it pains me.
I wish it kissed
or at least acknowledged.
I hold out my finger.
Don’t look where it points;
look where it came from.
Devon Balwit is a poet and educator from Portland, Oregon. Her poetry has found many homes, among them: 13 Myna Birds, Anti-Heroin Chic, Dream Fever Magazine, drylandlit, Dying Dahlia Review, Ink Sweat & Tears, Journal of Applied Poetics, Leveler, MAW, Rat’s Ass Review, Rattle, Red Paint Hill Publishing, Referential, Right Hand Pointing, The Basil O’Flaherty, The Fem, The NewVerse News, The Yellow Chair, txt objx, Vanilla Sex Magazine, and Wicked Banshee Press.