Shawn Nacona Stroud: three poems
This skin is not Prada,
Gucci or Versace—
it was purchased in purgatory
at the Gap Outlet on the corner.
Stitched tight in the flesh suit,
I became a mirror gazer,
a Snow Queen,
how I’ve loathed that cast-back face.
All day stealing into bathrooms
to sneak weary peeks
at my ravished portrait—
watching age etch its many mars.
At first the changes were subtle,
a spot here, a pock there—
the facial geography
slowly shifted with time.
I did anything to be designer then—
washing and washing to fade,
desperately stitching on labels,
and tearing twin holes in my newness.
Never able to copy them properly,
finally, only tatters remained,
and every mirror mocked me—
sticking out its tongue at my attempts.
What a fool my reflection has been,
always focused on what I lack—
regardless we end up pressed together
on the same second-hand rack.
First, I shovel
like churned earth. Forage
deep for those riches
buried in my depths. Then,
sift out pronouns and adjectives
as if grit from oil—perpetually
clogging one’s ingenuity.
Now shall I pan for imagery?
This nugget is a simile, here
a chunk of metaphor. Observe
how dense they both are
rising as they do
to the very top of my mind
when everything else simply sinks—
the clinks of dying lines
striking the bottom.
Their splendor is nearly blinding—
glimmers that speak of wealth and greed
and a need, always such a need
for something other. I’ve struck
gold—poem jazzing up
my page like pyrite.
It was best when I was still
tethered to you, all
weightless and bobbing
as a balloon on its string
frolics in the breeze. Drifting
in my hollowness—helium brained,
sustained in your womb’s atmosphere
where nothing could puncture me
without going through you first, there
I floated protected
until your grip slipped
and the sky opened to receive me.
—Shawn Nacona Stroud is our featured poet in WINK Issue 1.