Boundaryless in Bedlam

by AnnMarie Eldon
The Writer's Block
Second Place, February 2007
Judged by Pascale Petit

I discover, tripping over in the night, my skin upon the floor.
It has covered me for you for many years but a little stink of
lymph drew me up. There is carpet stain, I think, amidst
capillaries. This the token of the affair. How subcutaneous
the arousal was. Your chiffoned penis head outlined against
the grasp attempts, its drool a pearl in pasty splatter. My sole
encounters artery and extraneous andipose like the dreadful
waking of erectile knowledge. Sweat glands worm their way
up my legs to familiar haunts. There are green centipedes
in a constant dreamline wending their way upstairs who would
eat this mess. If waking from it were an option. We made an
arrogance of lovemaking. A career. And now the basals crunching
beneath a sleepwalk. I keep my blood in by uncertain denial.
As if in facto esse could save me. Yet not subject to the free
will of the individuals my skin has fallen off in the first attempt.
My maker squeezes a corpuscule. There is a scent of sebum
and lilies. The scavengers slither to a horde over boards to the
rug’s edge and the truth is out. This is the lore of realization.
Horny and squamous I can hold together no more. I lay me down.
Each pore a former glory.

My attention was instantly caught by the first line of this poem, which sets up the surreal conceit of a person discovering their skin by their bedside. The form itself, with its single prose-like block, looks like a cross-section through layers of skin under an electron microscope. In it we encounter sebum and corpuscules. The biological terms are embedded in the context of an erotic relationship, with all its luridly visceral manifestations. Thrown in to the mix is also the bedlam aspect of the title, allowing this poem the licence to bulge with irrational secretions. It's difficult to write this kind of overripe montage, but the poet gets away with it. --Pascale Petit