Prosthetic Conscience

Eh, feeling a little bit better about this one. And at least I managed to get two down today… I might have one more short one in me when I get home. Even if they’re crummy!

NaPoWriMo gave a list of spaceship names from the delicious novels of Iain M. Banks, and suggested using one as the title of the poem, which is where this one comes from. I found out, unfortunately, that Mr. Banks yesterday announced he has terminal cancer, which is rather advanced; he may not be with us a year from now. He is about the age of both my father, and my parents’ good friend (my brother’s godfather; maybe the best man at my parents’ wedding? I can’t remember) who passed away last fall from, eerily, the same sort of cancer. It’s a depressing and unsettling kind of thing, and I feel more depressed and unsettled that the only thing I can get out of it is this mediocre scrap of writing that is just me pumping the bellows to keep the fire going. But I suppose it’s more of an effort than nothing at all; these are the things we must do.

I think the weekend, and a sustained gasp of spring, are needed.

Prosthetic Conscience

He wore it after the original was severed,
fearing that its absence would show
between two ribs, or flared in his nostrils.
He always kept the lights out during sex.
If anyone got close enough to notice,
it would be too dark to see.
From time to time he felt phantom pains
deep inside his chest, a coppiced stalk
trying to sprout something stunted
but generous. He read philosophy.
He took communion and waited for change.
But it was the small hesitations
that quivered his hand or his tongue
which gave him away. Then it would slip
and expose his abbreviation.
What could he call himself?
Not a person: maybe the kind of person
who knows why he no longer deserves
that title. Some word that means,
“used to have slow warmth inside him”,
but not anymore. Now there’s only
an indifferent blood, just a few degrees
too cold.

4 thoughts on “Prosthetic Conscience

  1. Well, first don’t feel so bad about the villanelle, there’s something I really like about it– and what I like isn’t the fact that it’s a villanelle (not that I have anything against them). But now, and I suppose secondly, I see something about this poem in common with the other one. I know it’s difficult and even callus sounding, but I bet if you could take the tragedy (emotionally) out of this one and combine it (not necessarily in word) with the other one…..I dunno. There’s just something about the two poems that intrigue me as a whole.

    Just my 2.5 cents, probably not even worth half that. I’ve been wearing my therapist hat all day– could have something to do with it.

    Well anyway, keep up the good work Joseph.

  2. Joseph, I went to the official NaPoWriMo site and found all the prompt titles. You chose the best, and you worked it for all it was worth. “Maybe a person who knows he no longer deserves the title,” a great turn of phrase. Peace, Amy

  3. i love the beginning! the title into the first line: Prosthetic Conscience / He wore it after the original was severed,

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