Self-Portrait, Double Exposed

Self-Portrait, Double Exposed Poem

Bellowing skull heavy with brains
of pale prunes,
the eyeballs’ continual dual eclipses,
cochlear snails coiled below
the skin, ellipses

of moles
trailing off mid-sentence
and the dense
shelf fungus of lungs. Crooked teeth. The nipples’
beribboned tambourines, miles
of intestines, ripples

of jagged
coastline where a gull glides
from the clouds
and over the fingers’ ten shallow, brackish bays.
Pupas, polyps, checkered
crimsons, the steady buzz

of that
locust the heart. Liver
flies over
the stomach caw-cawing, over cells buttoned
for evening: and hear the thud
thud as the pudenda
fall open
to the lines: “The world is
wholly his
who can see through its pretension.”
But then what’s left
to have? Stranded upon
the rocks as the rocks drift

off, both,
too overwrought and too,
naked, who,
crouches here, hiding behind her shadow (turn around, look—), dead in the path
of the navel’s tornado?

Joanie Mackowski
first published in The Paris Review, no.158,
Spring/Summer 2001
also from The Zoo

Self-Portrait, Double Exposed

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