person Kristin Fullerton, one poem

Kristin Fullerton lives in upstate New York. She is a proud alumna of both Elmira College and University at Albany. Previous work has appeared in Devilfish Review, Maine Review, Panoplyzine, and Zetetic.


Reiterate, Write, Betray

Peace is not very interesting;
the countless dead confess
the road of the speechless.
You stop listening and I can’t stand
my own mind. I have to speak, nothing
can disown me from myself.
I inhabit no words,
but the words of others. I followed
your footsteps, but I cannot give
to a museum of betrayal,
whatever that means.
I have discovered signs with your eyes.
Such knowledge frightens me, draws
the veil aside under the scrutiny
of daylight, commands:
Write, write!
But there is nothing to say.

Write this: the near past
of language is still betrayal.
A body can lessen what remains to say,
can turn me wrong
at the road’s last bend or lead me
to safe places until there is nothing
to discover, nothing
that can be called viable.
Today I bring to you a woman’s confession:
The sheathed sword is the highest government,
commanding commodities
without exchange value and laying
waste to the smallest of men
swimming through our villages.
We hold your lack of holiness
with atonement more sacrament
than all the charitable images of the world.
This is my thesis.

I am the deepest lap, remembered
as the night of poetic sublimate.
I forego new territory in favor
of the path to you; nothing
can ever exempt me from that obligation.
I would bury a curse to love,
to love what men
desire, to translate texture,
to turn nothing to say into a good harvest,
but what should I do with it,
this snake’s piss, tongue-tied nothing?
Why must I write
to me or to you
or to the people life despises?
There are others to pursue.

Write this: the gravel driveway
is a certainty because questioning
means the night collapses,
a poor excuse for poetry.
My body once danced
on your homestead, reclaimed
your lands and insisted
whoever could read
the whole length of my hands
was the only real love.
Betrayal has never been a closed parenthesis;
it is still overcoming, in most cases,
stuck to my tongue
like an idol raised to heaven.
This is my thesis.

The dead have to speak,
even when hidden in your mind,
polishing the bones
of a great singer, without excuses.
Nothing is an appeasement, to follow
the daily assassinated with such love.
Death is not a basket
to collect sacrifices, not the last room—only
art and language, only fraud.
I think of your passing
when my hair’s falling out, when
time is overcoming the children
and the other women.
I have become used to the fact
that betrayal is the final charity.

Write this: women eat the most dreadful knowledge,
but I will not despair my flowering
or my withering.
Being understood is such a tiredness.
Men of America, I loved
before you. I’ve given you touch
again and again
because of a human despair.
You are out there, a record
in my belly. I’m sick of thought, wondering
how to be this way and speak,
while others serve only as cutaway hands.
I want to know how worthless
this poem will be, with its letters
no one so far knows.
This is my thesis.