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  • Shawn Nacona Stroud



I shall never escape this, there are two of you now.

The old meat still beats with persistence—

I’m here, I’m here, I’m here,

all flesh and sanguine and soul serving.

The other pays it no mind as it enlivens itself

like the fetus of a new heart, embryo

ripening beneath my right breast. Walnut sized

and black as dark matter,

yearning to spread me apart entirely. At night

its crackles jab and stab— little infant kicks

to a new mother’s womb. I never wanted it, this

fresh flutter of life conceived of my sin—

I did not summon you in, impoverished child

shrieking to nurse off me cell by cell

until the milk runs dry, your nursery is hell, and I

shriveled used douche left there in the bin.

I can only deliver you by delivering my end.

—Shawn Nacona Stroud


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