This poem is a lie, more or less. It’s a combination of a bunch of things and feelings and memories, but it never went down exactly like this. We Write Poems wanted an epistolary poem, and all I can think of under the wire is this bitter pill. Maybe I’ll think of something happier tomorrow, but for now, this is how I imagine William Carlos Williams wrote as an angsty teenager.


you beautiful boy

I have struck matches and lit incense
with the windows shut
scooped up the phosphoric smoke and rubbed it
into the linings of the pillows and mattress

which are still faintly stained
with lube and blood
no matter how much I wash them

and I have sprayed cologne in the air
allowed it to hang heavy–
not yours but something all musk and moss
I found in Chinatown for a song

and I let clove cigarettes burn to their filters
and I left oils simmering over
the votive in its glass cradle

which you gave me for my birthday
the week before everything went cold and hard
ground beneath us seizing up
like dark chocolate in a pot– more bitter
than sweet

and I did all this thinking
I could conjure an army of spiced spirits
to parade the scent of you out the bedroom door
hoping that would be
the first step in divesting myself of
the rest of you

although it hasn’t yet worked so far

7 thoughts on “Expulsion

  1. Misky says:

    Blimey, I can actually hear Williams’s voice. I’m studying Williams’s poems right now for a class, listening to him read his own work — he has an interesting voice. You’ve brought that same voice to this poem, Joseph.

  2. JulesPaige says:

    Hind sight is 20-20. Bitter is life sometimes, which makes good writes for poets pens.
    I perhaps was a tad bitter, but with hope?

  3. Awesome to expose bitterness rather than allowing it to fester. Loved the line ‘parade the scent of you out the bedroom door’.

  4. Ron. says:

    Very successful, convincing, moving work. Congratulations.

  5. Sometimes fiction and lies make the best poems. I am just as guilty, if not more.

    So many gorgeous images and lines to choose from, and I think angsty was the right word to describe it. It’s easy to overdo, but you manage just the right amount in this poem.

    Bravo again.


  6. Happy can be overrated. Love this piece, Joseph — a perfect mix of anger, bitterness and melancholy.

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