KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 2: Winter 2015
Poem: 275 words [F]

Self-Portrait with Framing Effect

by Kara Dorris
Sitting behind a screen
underneath blankets of leopards
& running stitches,

I almost forget I am a frame job:

It’s delinquent, an inamorata butcher
& cracked fang of things I’ve collected:

diamond cut vignettes
panoramic Venus hips
chase soundtracks.

Like potassium or plums
our bones produce, contract, read—

how I sponge-curl my hair
or knife an apple.

my 2 umbrellas, the one above
my drink & the one in my head.

Try through leather straps & steel pins
to mash limbs together

(I say again, to mash together again,
but the idea that I was ever

is a fable, a myth my mother told
when I couldn’t sleep).

my flush face in the crowd,
the smokestacks.

A crow necklace is just the black
feathers of operation,
another anesthesiologist saying,
she’s under.

It took less than a crash to take me apart, 
but Greyhound 
is what I remember.
All those dead babies & smooth limbs
I couldn’t feel
that might have been my own.

Red beads mean something.
That birds love when I wear my hair down?
But is it my hair or a monkey’s hand?

In my first surgery, I flipped
everyone off, handed out the bird,
kept the pulse light up in faces, bright.

After, I tried to sit up by myself
secretly in front of surgeons
& the maize behind,
yes, the maze you gimp through.
(One gimp knows another.)

Chlorine hands—
Nowhere else but here.
Don’t you see?
Our swimming pool doesn’t use chlorine.

A girl who stands in doorways.
I’ve never come this far before.

Never drown.
Momma, isn’t that all I’ve ever done?

—From Beauty Is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability, edited by Jennifer Bartlett, Sheila Black, and Michael Northen (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011); republished here by author’s permission

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