Journalism in Verse – EST. 2016


This is Not a Poem About Grace

in Science & Tech by

We have been analyzing the dead
          tissues too long, all wrong: the dead
body on the autopsy table is just
          a stack of collapsed compartments—

crawlspace, attic, the walled-over
          closet. We missed an entire organ,
the interstitium, between the other
          spaces, and inside the interstitium

the stranger secreted— the ex in
          the attic, the Jeremy in the basement,
the homeless woman in the cupboard,
          the closet, discarded just like your

intuition (the reports of lights, the stove
          warm when you swear you haven’t
touched it, the creaking and scraping,
          the money missing and the Cheerios

half-eaten). Sometimes we are online,
          shopping to forget the families being
bombed in their basements, and a stranger
          is watching through a peephole drilled

through the crawlspace. Sometimes those
          strangers in our houses are discovered
by their little cups of pee. Sometimes the strange
          in our bodies is revealed by what seeps

from those other spaces, like the space
          inside the barrel bomb that sloshes
with nerve agent. You are not what you own.
          You are not what you leak.

If the dead body on the autopsy table is
          a stack of collapsed compartments—
crawlspace, attic, bombed-out apartment—
          then grace is the space where

a family once hid. What strangers hide in me?



Scientists discover new human organ hiding in plain site [The Irish Times]
Women’s ex, hiding in attic, falls through ceiling [Salina Journal]
Fugazi – Merchandise [YouTube]

Shelley Puhak is a poet and essayist who lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She is the author of two books of poetry, the more recent of which is Guinevere in Baltimore, winner of the Anthony Hecht Prize. Her poems have recently appeared in Cincinnati Review, Kenyon Review Online, Verse Daily, and Waxwing.

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