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  • Hannah Seo

Substance

there is a two-inch gap behind my books,

a mouth stuffed with shiny aluminum

packaging – reflective ribbons that swallow

every lightness directed its

way. jonesing for a shot of self-loathing,

I distill a sip of soured elixir for every pound of doubt: a show of

modern alchemy:

unbridled restriction.

I am both luciferous performer and staunch

disciple – I follow the doctrines

of weights and measures, meditation and tea.

no room have I for indulgences,

no budget have I for cream. in the quake

of echoes I nurse my milky bruises and

stand at the altar, oily with kitchen

grease, slick with pig fat.

woman, carbonated with indignation,

cross-eyed from introspection – I reek of

disguised terror, of decay in the name

of health, of self-

martyrdom, of maxims

that minimize and deny the silver rivers

on my thighs, the fractures

in every reflection. I stretch and

break, bend the light away, and grow

so beautifully rotten in complacency

– sugar, don’t

romantics make the best cynics.



This poem was originally published in Barzakh Magazine on July 11, 2020.

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