SELF-PORTRAIT AFTER MY EX-LOVERS SELF-PORTRAIT
i’m eating myself. my happy stick figure
stands in the funnel of a meat grinder, waiting
to be cranked into little tubes like play dough
or beef. the part of me that is happy is the part of me
that is dull. but the version that eats is manic:
mouth open under the hole-plate, jaw dislocated
to fit in all the me i want to ruin. my ex-lover
has written in blue at the bottom of the page,
all caps: YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW ME.
now i’m perplexed. who doesn’t know
whom? let’s try something different: say
we are both in the image, he & i.
say he’s cranking that machine & i’m a bony body
with a parenthetical grin. say his irises are black & wide
& looking up at what he will devour. say i can feel
my feet, the twiggy metatarsals splintering
before he swallows them whole. say my little frame
thinks, this is how it’s supposed to be. say
when the neck of me reaches the gears,
their cut teeth churning, i begin to have doubts
Raena Shirali is from Charleston, SC, and currently lives in Columbus, OH, where she is earning her MFA in poetry at The Ohio State University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Banango Street, Better: Culture & Lit, The Boiler, Boston Review, Fogged Clarity, Four Way Review, Gulf Coast, Muzzle Magazine, Ostrich Review, Pleiades, Quarterly West, and The Nervous Breakdown. She recently won the 2014 Gulf Coast Poetry Prize, as well as a 2013 “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize. She currently serves as the Reviews Editor for The Journal.