Derek Berry



I tape tongue
to the roof of my mouth, say
I love you to strangers,
but not people I love.

Keep climbing into bed with ex-lovers,
always an act of archeology.
My body a decomposing heirloom,
what is passed down but never asked for.
Let me leave this flesh in the attic,
surrender its desires to dust.

Or let me unlatch myself, let me
love with a lucid honesty.
Let me rip off the scabs. I am trying
always to feel something real, connect
our backbones until we stand straighter.
But instead, I muffle
affection in grief, booze,
a flood of excuses spilling across
a dance-slick floor, staining
bed sheets I do not own.


              After Carravaggio

Clutch your side, imagine
a wound where there is no wound.
Who has not been dazzled
when slipping inside another’s body,
feeling there something pulsing & alive?

Baffled, one man reaches inside another man,
& blood cleanses blood,
for once. What is alive in one man’s blood
comes alive in another man’s blood.

Here, taste this flesh.
Taste this blood.
Here, the crown where someone else’s grief
coaxed blood to rise.
See this gash in the side of a torso,
how bloodied, yet warm?
See how bruised, but healing?
See here, a person who might have been dead
& is not.