Poem for Lorena Bobbitt



This case was not about a penis. –Lisa Kemler, defense attorney



The fantasy was a little blot

on your cornea, indelible red

in the morning mush bowl.

Where did it come from? Surely not

your own impossible head,

always burning & yet whole.




Did you visualize it after—not the act

(blood is old hat for women), but his

orphaned scrap—soft folds luminescent

with moon & waiting in a field

purpled with night, the itch & prick

of grass conjuring a ghost of heat as nerves

try to stir beneath a canopy of ravenous gnats.




Theatrically oversized in daylight:

the ragged-edged shadow it threw

as it was plucked from the ground

& held up like a muddy diamond

dug from the pit the policemen

had all imagined themselves into.




The next day, simple gore of another dawn—

the sun’s cruel hush of white like a blanket

on the smoldering pink. What did they want you to say?

The too-human slump of the fatly oblivious

clouds cast a reminder: god is already stuffed

with regrets. Maybe, with the little morsel

in your hand, you still felt him on top of you.




After an ordeal, panic congeals

at the back of the tongue. Almost sweet

in the morning, you can spread it

like jam across your toast. This I know.




Lorena, I can’t say I haven’t wanted to.

There was a time when I fell asleep

sucking on prayer like a kerosene lozenge

each night. But in bed I didn’t dare

swallow or unhinge my flaming jaw before God,

who must have finally said to you:

metaphor will not do.


Rochelle Hurt is the author of two collections of poetry: In Which I Play the Runaway (2016), which won the Barrow Street Book Prize, and The Rusted City (2014), which was selected for the Marie Alexander Series in prose poetry from White Pine Press. Her work has been included in the Best New Poets anthology series and she's been awarded prizes and fellowships from Crab Orchard Review, Arts & Letters, Hunger Mountain, Phoebe, Poetry International, Vermont Studio Center, Jentel, and Yaddo. She lives in Pittsburgh and teaches at Slippery Rock University. She also runs the review site The Bind.