September 13, 2017

Three Poems by Henry Ahrens: “I Have a Question After Our Conference,” “Vivisection,” and “A Poem is”

Henry Ahrens lives, writes, and teaches a variety of high school English classes in the leafy hills of Cincinnati, Ohio. His work has appeared in Tipton Poetry Journal, From the Edge of the Prairie, and Pudding Magazine.

I have a question after our conference

If you are really the abuser I think you are,
because you couldn’t help mentioning your upcoming wedding
at the conference for you son’s English class
right there in front of your ex-wife,
and because she wouldn’t say a word
even though I couldn’t unlock my eyes from hers
every time I asked a question,
and because those eyes were set in pools
of dark coffee admitting no light,
and though she kept her lips tight,
her eyes spilled toward you at every question I asked,
then how do you decide your victims?
You’re not about to wrench my arm behind my back
and make me spill any words over you.
In fact, I can’t recall one feature of your face.
I refused to look.


If you think you can pull it off:
snap on surgeons’ gloves,
palms in,
thumbs out,
elbows down.

Slice the thing open,
no anesthetic,
and run your blood-wet fingers to the delicate
of the poem.

what makes it pulse, and breathe,
and digest, and excrete,
what makes it howl in pain,
squirm, and
and do this all to the patient
still not etherized
upon the table
so that it doesn’t flatline.

Stitch it back up
without sign
     of a scar.

A poem is

unzipped double helices
with crumbling base pairs

the moment an atom
blinds the world with fusion

an atlas with unmarked roads
absent a compass rose

the mismatched parts of Victor’s creature,
galvanized and stitched together

bootless and dangerous too
but why am I telling you?

By the look on your face
you knew that already.

© Henry Ahrens

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