New Poem: Kidney Stone

I’ve been reading everything by Mary Karr, an incredible poet who doesn’t shy away from difficult topics: abortion, death, addiction, and a sassy and unapologetic sexuality. I posted a review of her book Viper Rum in a previous blog (find it here: Each encounter I have with Karr, as I have said in my blog, is like being hit by a truck. Her language is violent and demanding, not felt-board Christianity, but an honest telling of religious devotion under the pressure of post-modernity. Following her example, I have composed (and hopefully not failed, for now, we can call this the first draft) an intimate poem that doesn’t fear the immediacy of pain, healing, and the naked and decaying body of an alcoholic. I hope to achieve a kind of “disturbing toward self consciousness.” I hope you (enjoy?)

Kidney Stone

The doctor has prescribed pills
to breakdown the salt and minerals,
excrement emptied and spilled
from stomach to kidney. The residue of my soul
passing through the narrow urethra
is the dagger I imagine gashing open
Mother Mary, the thin blade crowning between her thighs.

So—this is being held against your will
at knife point. The doctor says
in three day’s time the stone will trench
a groove as it inches along
the spongy tube of my genitals,
and on a scale of one to hurt-like-hell,
it will be leaning toward a pain
competing with the majesty of birth.

On Tuesday, I’ll piss the Nile red. The small comet
my body creates traveling the distance
of 16 years of hard drinking, of the dark
tissue contracting in my guts, squeezing-through
the vats of poison chugged-down
to haul me off to dizzy sleep. In my dream,

the tiny rock slow-rolling through my dick
is the boulder the angel rolled back,
the slit in my bell-end doubtful as Thomas
in its opening and offering
of what WebMD calls amassed crystal,
the bloody diamond of 17 years sober,
the beautiful aftermath of birth,
the bottled-up and sealed kidney stone
displayed on the mantle,

a reminder of what it means
for the unillumined inside-places of the flesh
to be slashed open, pissed into light,
glossy with the glutinous liquid
gushed and nacreous as pearl.


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