Please be advised that this poem includes descriptions of self-harm. —The Editors

—A golden shovel poem on a line by Kaveh Akbar

my mother played the violin until I
begged her to stop. Melancholy cut
like catgut through my wrists and I bled in the open
like a butchered rabbit. I looked down, saw my
fingertips had fallen off, my thigh
crusted with their bits like panko on
a fine Chilean sea bass. A

vision as I brush my teeth: straight-edged razor
drawn like a kiss across my wrist. I hot-wire
serotonin and flee from there. A blue fence
presses against my chest but the gate is locked and
I’m trapped inside looking out, mouth filled
with glass, while beneath my ribs the
pale stalactites drip drip drip, form a wound
inside my spleen. I discover with
surprise that blood is molten Kleenex.

Image: Photo by Thomas Bresson, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons, / cropped, color overlay (pink).