KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 6: Fall 2016
Poem: 204 words

Switch Off

by Mary Odbert
though everything you know
about pressure and seams
tells you the steel bolts and twine won’t hold
the tissue won’t rip the bone won’t pop

just don’t focus on the slosh the thump
the snare’s metal mesh
pulled taut against the skin
		(and back and again)
relax and contract a shiny metal lever

try not to think about the word
c   h   e   s   t   s   p   r   e   a   d   e   r
the hissing and tutting of it
may lean the needle into red
sending drops seeping farther and wider

every swat of the snare scooting shoulders
and sternums and necks aside
so I can fit my drum kit with all its symbols and skins
don’t worry I’m not going to play it
(I don’t even have the sticks)

I just want to flip this lever     back   and   forth
so the metal mesh sheet raps dull clanging waves against skin
so you remember why you’re here
and why I’m here
and why the fish
and the oatmeal
and the distance from here to the moment the top of the ocean
meets the bottom of the sky
will never tap loudly enough at the outsides of skin
to drown out the drops that drip unending
at the persistent flip of the metal switch within

Mary Odbert
Issue 6, Fall 2016

is a graduate student of the Shakespeare Institute at the University of Birmingham where she earned her MA in Shakespearean Scholarship with honors. She plans to undertake her doctoral research this autumn. Throughout her life, Mary has balanced her academia with art. Through painting, music, poetry, and dance, she explores and redefines her experiences with anxiety, depression, and open-heart surgery.

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