Free Verse: Francesca Bell
"There's no money in poetry, but there's no poetry in money, either."-- Robert Grave
The phantom finger in this poem haunts the speaker—and possibly the reader as well—for a lifetime, pointing to a darkness we all carry inside us. “Severance” appeared in River Styx #87, our new spring issue.
I’m one of those men,
he told me with a crooked
little smile, and reached gingerly
across the space between us.
Men you read about
in history books, he said
as his right hand, the hand
with one finger gone AWOL,
vanished into the darkness
up my skirt and crept beyond
the flimsy barrier of my underwear.
It was twenty years ago. I was nineteen.
Like you are now. I nodded
and pressed firmly against his touch
trying to figure
which part of him I felt.
Whether it was a finger he still had
or the one he’d lost
that slipped inside me.
When I got back, he said,
I didn’t tell anyone.
Just smoked opium in some hotel,
bought myself a fur coat.
I felt like goddamn Jim Morrison.
I felt like. He paused, shifted
to where he could reach me
better. Like what I was.
A man who killed women and children.
Fucking infants, I’m telling you.
He halted there, to see that he had me
at attention, and said, I killed with pleasure
whatever I could. I cried out
at that but was by then
too far to pull back
and shuddered helplessly
against his maimed hand.
Sure then that what I felt
was the part of him
Francesca Bell did not complete middle school, high school, or college and has no degrees or credentials of any kind. Her poems have appeared in many journals, including Willow Springs, North American Review, RATTLE, 5AM, Passages North, and The Sun. Also to her credit are three luminous and eccentric children, a half-trained beagle, and some very nice blackberry jam.
Other "Free Verse" poets: Joshua Mehigan, Jill Alexander Essbaum, Drucilla Wall, Michael Meyerhofer, Travis Mossotti, Allison Joseph, Stacy Lynn Brown, Adrian Matejka , David Clewell, Catherine Rankovic,Andy Cox, Rodney Jones, Sara Burge, Melody Gee, Christopher Todd Anderson, Andrew Hudgins, Richard Cecil.
To learn more about River Styx, click here. Richard Newman, River Styx editor for 18 years, is the author of two full-length poetry collections, "Borrowed Towns" and "Domestic Fugues." He also co-directs the River Styx at Duff's reading series.