Sample Poems

The Hanged Man

I know a lot about the second cervical vertebra.
And because I love precision and accuracy, I refer
to it as the axis, its name buried in Latin,
meaning chariot, meaning axle, meaning the line
around which something revolves or turns.

How is that for being exact? And to break the axis,
to fracture it, is rare. A neurosurgeon will tell you
it comprises only 15% of cervical spine injuries.
Although we live in the 21st century and one
would assume a more clinical name for breaking

the axis, such a break is still called the Hangman’s
Fracture. I need not explain the derivation
of such a name. Not divers or thrill-seekers,
but heretics and those charged with treason
provided such a term—the hanged man, the monster,

the witch and the unloved. Go ahead; break this bone.
Shatter it. Leave cracks to be seen on an x-ray.
The hanged man walking tilts his head to the side
opposite the cracks. He tilts his head away from
such an insult. He tries to appear normal.

But there is no name for such behavior,
no clinical name to describe this odd activity of avoidance.
I have spent years studying avoidance. I am
an expert now. I never say the hip bone is connected
to the thigh bone. I say acetabulum, say head of the femur.

appeared originally in The Collagist